Are you noticing the ever-increasing number of cyclists on city roads? Thinking it might be worth a go?
You're not going mad. Cycling is increasingly safe and acceptable, and for good reason. Many workplaces encourage it, and on a weekend morning, you've probably noticed the squads of cyclists enjoying a post-ride cuppa. It lets you exercise, enjoy the fresh air, save money and avoid public transport all at once. What's not to like? But it can be intimidating to head out onto the road as a beginner.
Here’s our guide to getting on your bike with confidence:
1. Buy the right bike
A bike-rider needs a bike, and your first decision is how much to spend. You won't want a carbon-fibre frame or futuristic suspension—at least not yet. You're best bet is a conventional road bike. Shopping for a second-hand one is a smart move; just remember to take it to a bike mechanic before taking it out on the road.
You'll also need to invest in lights and a bike lock unless you want to invest in the "unstealable" bike.
2. Wear the right gear
Unless you're planning to race, you won't have to worry about a new lycra outfit. Commuter fashion is booming, so pick up a pair of flexible trousers (Levi's commuter 511 trousers even include a strap for your bike lock) and waterproof your jeans and jacket with some reproof wax. Ultimately you should wear whatever's comfortable, but jeans and long sleeves will do a better job of protecting you if you hit the tarmac.
And a helmet is essential, no questions asked.
3. Know the rules
Before you head out onto the road for the first time, get acquainted with the road rules of your respective state (see below). Always remember the three Cs - common sense, courtesy, and caution.
Learn the signals, how to pass other cyclists, and how to behave in thick traffic. RideOn Magazine has a useful summary of these cycling manners that is worth a read.
Australian cycling rules state-by-state:
4. Stay safe
Cycling isn't 100% safe but it's not completely dangerous either. As a beginner, a few precautions can go a long way:
- Don't be afraid to get some practice off the road first. Learn how to break quickly and manoeuvre the bike in close quarters
- Plan your route before you start your ride
- Keep your bike in good shape by servicing it regularly. Most bike shops will have an in-house mechanic, and they can teach you the basics of keeping your bike clean and roadworthy
- Check your lights and wear high-vis gear when cycling at night or in the rain
If you want to ride in the rain, read RideOn Magazine's useful guide for more detailed tips.