Getting on your bike and out on the roads can take some building up to. Sarah Brown – a Breeze Champion, Bikeability instructor, British Cycling Level 2 coach and head instructor at Hot Chilli Cycles – learnt this when she was recovering from an injury.
Here, she offers some top tips for building your confidence on the road to everyone taking part in Divas on Wheels.
I believe you’re never too old or too young to get on your bike.
I’ve cycled for many years. I love cycling, both on and off road. I believe you’re never too old or too young to get on your bike.
During a holiday in Greece, I had an accident that left me paralysed on one side and needing a new hip. I was amazed when the physiotherapists told me, after just a few weeks of recovery, that I should get back on my bike. Cycling would be easier than walking, they said. They were the only people telling me this, but with a little encouragement I followed their advice – and it was true.
My experience shows that nothing is impossible when it comes to building the confidence to ride your bike on the road.
Here are my top tips for anyone who needs a bit of inspiration to get back in the saddle.
1. Road position
Cycle one step away from the kerb. This means that you’re not riding in the gutter, over the drains or in the rubbish. It also means that if a car overtakes you, they overtake you correctly, giving you more room. People like symmetry, so if you’re cycling really close to the kerb they’ll do the same to you – whereas if you’re away from the kerb, they have to overtake you correctly.
You need to be looking all around you and be aware of what’s going on – the traffic, pedestrians – and, mostly importantly, you need to be looking at drivers. When you come to a T-junction, look at the driver and check that they’ve seen you. The way to do this is by smiling; then, people smile back and you know that they’ve seen you.
Always look behind you before you do something or move position in the road. The Lycra-clad people who ride on the road don’t look behind; they tend to just move straight out. So, the most important thing is to always look behind because then you’re communicating with the traffic. They then know that you’re about to do something.
Armed with these three top tips, you’ll cycle more confidently and assertively on the road and really enjoy feeling the power that enables you to cycle correctly.