If the first few outings on your new bike can be a little daunting think how passers-by, runners and fellow cyclists are feeling as the latest rookie rider wobbles their way uncertainly towards them. An accident waiting to happen is probably going to be the verdict of many. And they are probably not far wrong in a number of cases.
So to avoid both your own embarrassment and to ensure the safety of the locals, what’s the best option? Given that you will be understandably uncertain about both interacting with the bike, or in layman’s terms riding it, and the small matter of gaining confidence in your balance, it is wise to choose a surface as even and level as possible at a time of day that attracts the minimum amount of pedestrian traffic but offers good visibility.
Riding SurfaceThe local park will have plenty of pathways to suit the purpose, and to avoid the crowds head out early in the morning. You don’t want to be stopping with the approach of someone on foot or two wheels, or even worse attempt to swerve to avoid them, as that fledgling cycling balance may not be able to cope with anything too dramatic at this early stage. If you are especially nervous, then compromise on the flatness of the riding surface and cycle across the grass. At least the confidence of knowing you will come down to earth with less of a bump should mean you progress much quicker in terms of confidence.
Those lucky enough to live near a promenade should make use of such a long flat, straight run, again in the early morning and, naturally, sea breezes permitting. Practising your cycling technique as the waves crash over the sea wall is definitely not recommended, even for the best of swimmers.
In the SaddleIt should go without saying that you should avoid taking to the road at all costs. Cycling in the presence of traffic is bad enough if you don’t have any knowledge of the Highway Code; if you are simply trying to build up hours in the saddle, you are again a danger to both yourself and everyone else. This is true even in the quiet times before rush hour as even the appearance of just one or two cars is likely to cause you to panic and result in some worrying wobbling and unpredictable changes in direction as you wrestle with the handlebars and the direction of the front wheel.
The initial stages of learning will be helped if you have an experienced buddy who can not only encourage you in your efforts but is well aware of how to approach the learning curve and the potential pitfalls. Their presence alone is likely to leave you feeling less self-conscious. Once you are happy with picking up speed over flat straight runs, ease yourself into manoeuvring round corners, and up and down hills. Remember that you are aiming to build confidence, but definitely not overconfidence. And always be mindful of the people around you.
Choosing progressively more challenging routes will not only build your technique but prevent you from getting bored with runs that you now find easy.