Bicycle Network: Skill Up
Top ten riding tips for learners
Basic skills and tips for new riders - it's never too late to learn
Penny Farthing's top 10 riding tips for learners
- Give yourself a chance to get used to it. Start with short sessions and build up. If you're finding that your bike is uncomfortable, it may not be set up correctly for you. Ask your bike shop for advice.
- Practise braking, applying the front and back brakes together. The back brakes are good for slowing, but have less stopping power. The front brakes will stop you more quickly. Don't use your front brakes alone (unless you like flying over the handlebars) - make sure you apply the back brakes at the same time.
- Practise stopping quickly and accurately at a particular line. If you can find a friend to help, practise reacting quickly and coming to a stop at a signal, such a blow of a whistle. If you want to stop more quickly, apply your front and back brakes at the same time.
- Practise cornering. Apply the brakes before the corner, using your back brakes more than your front brakes, and lean in to the corner slightly.
- Practise riding in a straight line. Look into the distance to where you want to go, as you would when driving a car. Don't look down in front. Then try looking behind you while still riding in a straight line. This is a good skill to have for riding in traffic.
- Learn to use your gears. Change gears frequently so you don't have to work too hard.
- Pedal with the ball of your foot. Start off with the pedal where you can push it easily, at about 2 o'clock.
- For more power in your pedal, have the seat up high enough so that your leg is almost straight on the down pedal.
- Avoid braking or turning suddenly on loose gravel (unless you enjoy skidding and falling off). Wearing gloves will save your hands if you do fall off.
- Relax, take it easy, and slow down before you get out of control. Keep your eyes and ears open, and be prepared to stop.
Bike path etiquette
Stick to the left and give way to walkers - they have right of way over bikes. If you're coming up behind and wanting to overtake someone, use your bell to let them know you're there. This may seem a bit confrontational at first, but a friendly bell ring or honker hoot is more appreciated than giving someone a big fright as you suddenly speed past. Dogs and kids are unpredictable, so take it easy and be prepared to stop.
Don't let the turkeys hold you back
Learning to ride is easier if you can find a patient friend to give you a bit of moral support. But some people will still say "How can you do it?" or "That's a bit dangerous, isn't it?". What they're really thinking, even if it is subconscious, is "I just can't bear the idea that you might be healthier, more active and having a better time than me". So bear that in mind and don't let 'em get you down.