Aside from a bicycle, confidence is about the most important thing you can have as a cyclist – especially a cyclist who’s planning on commuting around the city for work and play.
When riding away from the cycle paths and on the roads, have the confidence to ride on the part of the road you need to be on. Not too close to parked cars, not too close to the middle of the road.
Use your confidence to signal turning. Your arm should strongly indicate which direction you’re planning on going so drivers respect you as part of the road we all share. Make eye contact with the driver while you signal to get the message across.
You have a right to be on the cycle path and road. You’ve worked up to having the skills to be able to ride around confidently and share the road with cars and motorbikes. You’ve planned your journey. You know where you’re going.
Hills are what most crazy Tour de France cyclists dream about. For the rest of us, they’re a hassle that must be endured before we can fly down their other side with the wind in our hair and a grin stretching from one side of our helmet to the other.
Here are some things you need to know about hills:
- Even the hardest hill will get easier if you ride up it a few times a week.
- There’s no shame in shifting to your lowest gears to make the hill easier, that’s what gears are for.
- Riding up hills is the best way to get the lungs burning and the maximum impact to your fitness.
- If a hill is just too steep for you, it’s okay to walk your bike up it.
- At the peak of a hill, there will almost always be a descent (yippee).
I’ve been cycling for 10 years as an adult and have had two falls (I’m afraid if I was tallying my childhood falls we’d have a number much more congruous with the Tour de France).
The first fall I sprained my arm when I rode too close to a metal fence near a train station, the second I scraped my knee after not getting on my bike properly and falling over – seven years into my career as a commuting cyclist.
Falling off is something that’s going to happen to you at some stage and it’s going to shake you up a little. It’s worth carrying a little pack of antiseptic and a few bandaids in your bike repair kit, in case you ever need to ‘repair’ yourself.
If you fall off your bike, be sure to move off the road, take a few deep breaths and survey the damage. Even if the damage is a simple scratch on the knee or a bruised bum, take a few minutes out to calm down and gather your composure.
Falling on your head is a different matter. Even though you’ll be helmeted as we and the law suggest, go and see your doctor just to be safe – heads are kinda important in this crazy world of ours.