Archive for the ‘Couch to commuter cyclist in 6 weeks’ Category

April 1, 2013 00

So sorry for the delay on getting this blog up – I’ve been sick…. Anyway, here it is! We are here, week 6. Well done to you for making it this far. By now if you have been trying everything in these blogs you should be ok at braking, cornering, getting out of the saddle, […]

So sorry for the delay on getting this blog up – I’ve been sick…. Anyway, here it is! We are here, week 6. Well done to you for making it this far.

By now if you have been trying everything in these blogs you should be ok at braking, cornering, getting out of the saddle, indicating and dealing with some traffic.

The last piece of the puzzle is considering where on the road to ride.

This may sound silly but it’s super important and will help with your confidence on the road while commuting by bike.

Repeat after me – I will not ride in the gutter!  You don’t need to. Legally you are allowed to own the lane. By this I mean, ride in the middle of the lane not on the far left. This means cars actually have to change lanes to go around you, instead of trying to squeeze past you.

If you ride in the gutter, you can expect cars to try and sneak past you in your lane and they will come close and probably give you a fright.

So….

Own the lane – take the whole lane. Ride in the middle of the lane. If motorists don’t like this, that is your problem. You are legally allowed to. Even better, ride with a friend and ride two abreast. Again you are allowed to do this and you will feel much safer doing so. Of course, if you are commuting on a regular cycle route, give other cyclists enough room to pass you on the right. Taking the lane also means you are out of harm’s way in terms of car doors opening on you.

Don’t run red lights. It makes you look like a doofus, it gives the rest of us a bad name and it’s dangerous. You could hit a car or a pedestrian. If you wouldn’t do it while driving, then don’t do it on a bike.

When in dedicated bike lanes, stick to the left unless you are overtaking. And when you are overtaking, it’s courteous to ring your bell or call out and let the cyclist in front of you know you are coming past them. E.g. “passing on the right”, “I’m on your right” etc.

Don’t ride on the footpath. Unless you are with a little person or the footpath is dedicated cycle paths (which happens – e.g. Victoria Road), it’s illegal to ride on the footpath. You will cause angst for pedestrians too. Not worth it.

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Some road rules apply specifically to cyclists. Did you know you can:

  • Ride two abreast, no more than 1.5 m apart
  • Overtake on the left hand side of stopped or slow moving vehicles
  • Travel in Bus Lanes and Transit Lanes
  • Ride on the footpath if less than 12 years old
  • Ride on the footpath if you are an adult riding with, and supervising, an under 12 year old
  • Turn right from the left hand lane of a multi-lane roundabout with the proviso that you give way to traffic exiting the roundabout before you
  • Travel on road shoulders.

If you don’t believe me go http://www.bicycleinfo.nsw.gov.au/riding_safely/nsw_road_rules.html and check it out!

Congratulations on getting this far. I hope by now you are feeling more confident.

But what if you’re not?

If not, don’t fret. These things take time.  It took me much longer than six weeks to get the courage to commute to work on my bike. And if that’s you too, well so be it.

It may just mean a few more rides on quiet back streets or in a park until you get your confidence up.

Give yourself a pat on the back for giving this a go. Cycling as an adult is not the same as cycling as a kid. So well done for being brave and getting out there.

Let me know how you go!!

In the future, we will also run a special blog on cycling in cleats. Stay tuned.

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

 

March 14, 2013 00

Congratulations for making it this far! I’m super proud of you. Only this week and next week to go… So this week’s objectives – cornering, making eye contact with drivers and considering your commuting route. Cornering Find a nice quiet street with some corners …. – Break before the corner – Practise leaning slightly into […]

Congratulations for making it this far! I’m super proud of you. Only this week and next week to go…

So this week’s objectives – cornering, making eye contact with drivers and considering your commuting route.

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Cornering

Find a nice quiet street with some corners ….

– Break before the corner

– Practise leaning slightly into the corner

– As you go into the corner, lean your weight on the feet on the outside pedal. i.e. the foot on the outside pedal should be facing down towards the road. This may sound counter intuitive but makes more sense when you do it.

– The foot on the inside pedal nearest the corner should be up. (watch the first minute of this – especially around 40 seconds you can see them cornering with the inside leg up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU-YIeXxuDs).

– Try cornering both left and right and ideally start with some big sweeping corners before trying tighter corners

– Also notice what gear you are in, similar to going up a hill, a higher gear will just give you a bit more stability going into the corner

Making eye contact with drivers

This is by far the best advice I’ve ever received. The best way to stay safe on the road and ensure motorists let you in, is to look over your shoulder and make eye contact with the driver behind you.

Particularly when turning or indicating, if you’ve locked eyes with them you know they have seen you.

It also means you are now suddenly a person to them and not just another cyclist.

When you look back at the motorist be careful not to steer off in a crazy direction! (Oh it happens!).

Often after making eye contact, a motorist will give you more space which is a good thing.

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Choosing your route carefully

This week I also want you to start considering your commuting route to work. By this I mean, don’t assume that the way you would drive is the way you will cycle.

Investigate bike paths (although if you are not a confident cyclist, these can be pretty crazy busy in peak hour) or check our quieter roads which may take you on a slightly further journey but make you feel safe.

If you can, try driving it just to see what it might be like.

Choosing your route is super important so spend the time considering it. Don’t forget there are lots of great places you can ride where a car can’t go – e.g. Darling Harbour or around the front of the convention centre, and these may be options for you on your route.

If you are having trouble ask other cyclists or you can ask me and I can share it with the BikeGal community. Someone will have an answer for you.

Some councils have also now produced bike maps, which show the local area and the best routes for bikes. So contact your local council too.

Riding up hills out of the saddle

I hope you are starting to make progress with riding up hills and getting out of the saddle.

Don’t forget that unless you are riding up a really really steep hill, if you have lots of gears you don’t have to get out of your saddle to get up the hill. And very worse case scenario – you can always hop off and walk. There is no harm in that.

Next week we are going to have a review of everything and see where you are up to!

I hope it’s going well – email me and let me know info@bikegal.com

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com

March 7, 2013 2

Congratulations on making it to week 4! I am super proud of you and hope you are starting to feel a bit more relaxed on your bike. Bit by bit, you will feel more comfortable and more relaxed. It just takes a little time and spending that time in the saddle. This week’s entire objective […]

Congratulations on making it to week 4! I am super proud of you and hope you are starting to feel a bit more relaxed on your bike.

Bit by bit, you will feel more comfortable and more relaxed. It just takes a little time and spending that time in the saddle.

This week’s entire objective is to get comfortable riding out of the saddle.

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Now no one is asking you to scream up hills like those boofheads do in the Tour de France!

Last week I asked you to just try getting up from the saddle and trying a few pedals and sitting down again.

This week we are going to take it a step further.

Find a small hill and as you start up the hill, make sure you are in a bigger gear. Get up out of the saddle, lean your weight forward on your handlebars and notice how it’s different going up the hill out of the saddle. It’s also hard work!

In fact, cycling up a hill sitting in the saddle is actually the more efficient way to get up the hill but as you get stronger and more confident, you will notice you are more capable of riding up a hill out of the saddle.

Try going up and down a gentle hill several times.

Notice how as you move up the hill out of the saddle, you start to get a bit of a rhythm as you are working your legs and your body naturally starts to move a bit left and right as you go.

If at any time this feels scary, just go back to the flat and just try standing up again for a few seconds while riding on the flat.

It took me quite a while to feel comfortable getting out of the saddle and riding up a hill. And lots of the time, even now, I still stay seated going up hills and there is nothing wrong with that.

Getting up a hill also means being in the right gear. As you get to know a hill that your ride repeatedly, you will get to know the best gear to be in. Sometimes you will be in too high a gear and it will be too hard, and other times you will be in too small a gear and you will find it hard to get out of the saddle – as you won’t have the right tension on the bike to do it (does that make sense!!).

I remember one day riding up a steep hill around the back of Rozelle, and half way up the hill I realised it was getting steeper, but I didn’t have the dexterity to shift down a gear! So I literally just stopped, got off and walked up the hill. I felt a bit silly, but hey who cares. It’s all a learning experience.

Next week we will look at cornering, making eye contact with drivers and considering your commuting route. And in the last week we will have a recap on everything.

I will also give you a special week further down the track about how to ride in cleats.

But for this week – just try getting out of the saddle and going up a hill out of the saddle. If you only make it up half the hill or a quarter of the hill, that’s totally cool.

If you get the wobbles on the way up, sit back down. Just start to get the feel of it.

Share your stories!

How is the program going for you? I would love to hear your stories. You can email me info@bikegal.com or find BikeGal.com on facebook and tell me about it.

Using your drink bottle while cycling?

One new cyclist Vera got in touch via email – she’s having trouble being able to eat and drink while cycling. Vera – this is certainly a skill!

Initially try just touching the top of your drink bottle. Whatever you do though, don’t look down. Look ahead and just feel for it – you will get the hang of it. If you cycle somewhere where it’s safe (like a park), you can also try getting the bottle out and drinking, and if you can’t get it back in, throw it to the side and come back for it next lap.

This happened to me once – because I couldn’t get it back in and couldn’t un clip without putting both hands on the handlebars. So I had no choice.

Drinking while cycling is great once you get the hang of it. I generally try to do it on a flat bit of road that I know, so I can keep one hand on the handlebars and drink with the other.

Probably wait until you feel really comfy taking your hands off the handlebars though before attempting to drink.

Got suggestions for how to ride up a hill or drink from your drink bottle while cycling? Please share in the comments below or email me.

Good luck!

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com x

February 28, 2013 00

Can you believe it we are already at week 3! Hope it’s going well. This week again repeat the previous weeks drills aiming to remain calm and be comfortable in taking a hand off the handlebars. Riding at different speeds This week is also time to try riding at different speeds – how slowly can […]

Can you believe it we are already at week 3! Hope it’s going well.

This week again repeat the previous weeks drills aiming to remain calm and be comfortable in taking a hand off the handlebars.

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Riding at different speeds

This week is also time to try riding at different speeds – how slowly can you go with out toppling over or getting stressed? When riding in traffic and commuting it’s important to be able to adjust your speed. So imagine you are riding up to a traffic light and waiting for it to change – pick a tree as your traffic light and ride as slowly as you can up to it without actually coming to a complete stop.

And in the reverse, can you go quite fast and also remain relaxed?

Stopping quickly

Commuting on a bike means you absolutely MUST be able to stop quickly. Without doubt there will be occasions where you will have to react and stop quickly.

So for this drill you will need a friend. Pick somewhere safe and flat where you can ride towards them. From about 50 metres away from them ride towards them and when they clap you need to stop as quickly as you can. Keep practising it. The idea behind this is you won’t know when they are going to clap – so you just have to be ready!

Riding out of the saddle

If you haven’t done this for some time it can be a bit daunting at first. So this week while on the flat, just try lifting your bottom out of the saddle and putting all your weight forward into your feet and onto your pedals. You may have to lean forward a little to do this. You also want to be in a higher/bigger gear when you do this so there is more resistance in the pedals.

This week all you need to do is get out of the saddle and try a few pedals and sit down again.

Good luck.

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com

February 21, 2013 00

How did you go in your first week? I hope you went well and you are feeling a bit more relaxed on your bike. Again try and spend as much time on your bike as you can this week – even if it’s only 20 minutes every two days. This is better than trying to […]

How did you go in your first week? I hope you went well and you are feeling a bit more relaxed on your bike.

Again try and spend as much time on your bike as you can this week – even if it’s only 20 minutes every two days. This is better than trying to do a big chunk all in one day. You want to do enough each day or every other day so you feel more comfortable.

This week we are going to build on what we did last week. So again, still remain focussed on staying relaxed and not holding any tension in your body while cycling.

You should be cycling feeling relaxed and smooth and in control.

Things to do this week:

This week we are building on letting go of the handlebars – we are building up to being able to indicate left and right, as well as drinking from your water bottle. Certainly for commuting you need to be able to indicate left and right.

We are also going to focus on riding in a straight line – I know sounds easy.

1. Ride while touching your nose with one hand. Try touching your head with one hand. Try leaning down to touch your water bottle. While doing each of these look where you are going. So when leaning down – don’t look down!

2. Try this with both hands – like all things you will probably find you have one side that you prefer more

3. If the bike gets shaky or you feel like you are losing control, just go back to the handlebars with both hands holding loosely (not gripping on for dear life!)

4. I also want you to work on cycling in a straight line. For example, if you are riding in Centennial, try and do a whole loop where you stay say 1 metre in from the painted line. This is just a way of practising staying in control on the bike

5. If you are cycling in cleats – also concentrate on both the pulling up of your foot as well as the push down – easier than it sounds!

Next week we will look at riding at different speeds and stopping quickly.

I hope you are enjoying the program. Share your feedback!

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com

February 15, 2013 01

So, on the request of a friend, each week for the next 6 weeks I am going to load up my guide to getting from the couch to riding a (road) bike in six weeks. I would love your feedback! This guide is written on the premise, that you can already ride a bike – […]

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So, on the request of a friend, each week for the next 6 weeks I am going to load up my guide to getting from the couch to riding a (road) bike in six weeks. I would love your feedback!

This guide is written on the premise, that you can already ride a bike – as in you can get going and have your balance but that’s about it. Or you haven’t ridden for a long time, or you are new to a road bike/cleats. Or you are lacking confidence (can’t ride up a hill, out of the saddle, can’t turn a corner, can’t brake quickly, can’t indicate etc etc – this is where I started!!!).

Here is week 1:

What you want to do this week is practise relaxing on your bike. Just like all things, the more relaxed you are, the easier it becomes.

So things to practice this week:

1. Try to get on your bike every other day for a whole week – even if it’s only for 20 minutes. This just helps to build your confidence. Every day is best

2. When on your bike, I want you to notice how tightly you are gripping the handle bars or if you are holding any tension in your body while cycling. I found I used to ride with my neck and shoulders all scrunched up

3. (So if you are like me)relax your shoulders and neck or any other areas

4. Loosen your grip on the handlebars and notice how you are still in complete control

5. Remind yourself of these above two points every time you are on your bike this week

6. Focus on where you are going – look forward not down

7. Also (if you are already in cleats) practice the feel of your cleats – focus on pulling up as well as pushing down. If not, don’t worry we will get to that later

8. Towards the end of week 1, start trying riding at different speeds – bit faster as well as a bit slower, but staying in control, balanced and remaining relaxed. If either going slowly or faster makes you stressed, then just return to a comfortable speed.

If cycling itself is stressful, just try cycling for 10 – 15 minutes or so and take a break and start again.

Don’t ride in wind or rain or both and if possible avoid riding in the dark or when lots of other mad cyclists are around you – we want to make this as easy as possible for you.

Ideally cycle somewhere away from traffic – and relatively flat.

Goal for this week – remain relaxed on the bike.

Good luck!

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com xx