Use two different locks
I’ll never forget the day I walked back to the bike shed after my college lessons, only to find my bike had disappeared. Confused I asked myself: Did I lock my bike? Is this a friend of mine playing a practical joke? Did I even ride my bike in today?
Learn to ride assertively
About three years ago I was having coffee with David Love from the London Cycling Campaign. He turned to me and said: Have you ever taken a cycle training course?
Me! Of course not! I don’t need such a course. I thought to myself. However, I trusted David’s opinion and so I booked myself in with Cycle Training UK. The two hour session that followed changed the way I cycled for ever.
I started using techniques such as establishing eye contact with drivers. I also became more assertive on the road and didn’t let drivers put me in dangerous positions.
To this day, it shocks me how much high vis is synonymous with safe cycling. There’s so much more to it.
Fear no punctures
When I first started cycling I was always worried my bike was going to get a puncture and I’d have no idea what to do. Fortunately, early on I splashed out on puncture proof tyres. This made punctures a very rare occurrence. I also figured out how to repair one – just in case!
Gear down at traffic lights
As anyone who’s pedalled up to a traffic light in a high gear will know, it’s a pain to get started again. Now I always gear down before I hit the lights so I can set off more quickly and without angering my knees!
Use CycleStreets and BikeHub to plan your route
If your image of cycling in London is Euston Road, lorries and angry traffic then you’ve not yet discovered the magic of the CycleStreets route planner. Also, don’t forget to download a copy of BikeHub for route planning on the go.
Learn a thing or two about bike maintenance
Whether you use an app, videos on the internet or a bike maintenance course, learn a thing or two about bike maintenance! I chose to learn because I wanted to save money and ended up really enjoying discovering how my bike works (especially as it was much easier than I imagined).
Learn the rules of bike locking
Always lock your bike through the frame, through the wheel and through the object you are securing it to. Don’t lock your bike to a post that it can be lifted over. Lock your bike somewhere busy. Never leave your bike unlocked – even for just a minute. Don’t place the lock too near the ground as it will be easier to leverage for attack. Remove all accessories.
Get a floor pump
I spent my first couple of years cycling without a floor pump. Little did I know all this time I was riding without properly inflated tyres. A floor pump with a pressure gage
helps you pump up tyres quickly and get them to the required pressure. This prevents punctures and dramatically improves your performance.
Don’t wear underwear beneath your lycra shorts
Whilst most people won’t wear lycra when they first get started, eventually, for a long distance bike ride they can’t resist trying it! A classic mistake is to wear underwear beneath the lycra shorts. Don’t do it!
Be zen! Breathe and don’t get angry
Pedestrians are going to walk in front of you, cyclists are going to jump through red lights and Brompton’s are going to overtake you(!). Each time this happens you have a choice: Get angry, or breathe and let it go! There are plenty more things that are irritating, but focus on them and you’ll miss the many joys of cycling.
Have any more lessons? Share them below!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.