Rediscovering the joy of getting back on your bike

Cycling with friends - get back on your bikeMany people have taken up or rediscovered cycling during lockdown, and the 40% rise in bike sales reported across the UK has been confirmed by a Somerset bike shop owner local to Dennis Maps.

‘The phone constantly rings with people wanting either bikes, or service and repairs to the bikes they’ve had stashed in the shed for years. All ages and all abilities are getting back to cycling,’ says Lee Phillips of Bike-It Radstock Ltd.

‘We’re now at a point where we have hardly any bikes in stock in the shop, and our suppliers can’t tell us when they will have availability to re-stock. Helmets, pumps, tyres etc are all running out.’

Lee says his customers are riding to work and also for fitness and fresh air. So what do you need to think about before getting back on your bike?

How to get back on your bike:

  • Get your bike serviced before you ride it, or if you’re buying a new one ask your local bike shop to help you find the right kind and size. They can adjust the position of the seat and handlebars so you are comfortable and safe.
  • Think about the best kind of bike for your needs. Where will you be riding? Do you want a bike to go across country, or a fast bike for roads? Or a hybrid might be the best choice. In Lee’s shop mountain bikes are the most popular – ‘I’m not sure if this is driven by the price range as they tend be cheaper, but also you can ride them everywhere.’
  • If you don’t feel quite up to tackling hills, or you’re cycling to work and don’t want to arrive sweaty, consider an electric bike. ‘This is the area of cycling that is seeing the greatest growth,’ says Lee, ‘It makes cycling achievable and enjoyable for all ages and abilities. It allows families to all go out together, and for people to be able to cycle further distances than they may otherwise have.’

Woman cycling up hillRoad safety when riding your bike

  • When you start cycling again keep it simple and stick to quiet roads. Traffic is the most common concern for those who haven’t been on a bike for a while, according to Lee – ‘people worry about possibly being knocked off. Lots of people are keen to cycle but just want to go to places where they don’t have to worry about the traffic.’
  • Find somewhere off the beaten track where you can practise changing gear, steering, hand signalling and using the brakes. If you haven’t been on a bike for years you might find the remembered thrill of speeding down hills a bit alarming!
  • It’s also helpful to go out at first with an experienced rider who can ride in front or behind you to give you some confidence-building protection depending on the road conditions.

Man on mountain bike in forestNow you’re back cycling and feeling confident

  • Check the National Cycle Network routes in your area. There are 10 main routes from the north of Scotland to West Cornwall, and many of them lie along traffic-free paths, disused railway lines and quiet lanes.
  • As you build up your confidence and fitness you can go further afield. You might like to plan your routes using road cycling maps, as explained by Dennis Maps keen cyclist Christian Coates.
  • If you’re now cycling to work, or going out regularly on your bike,  you might be considering insurance. CyclingUK provides third party insurance in case of an accident, and is also offering a new six month support package that includes bike and personal accident insurance.

If you’re still unsure about cycling, be assured that the future of green transport is looking bright. Keen to reduce pressure on public transport the government plans to further encourage cycling with a £2 billion package that will include vouchers for bike repairs, the provision of bike fixing facilities and protected space for cyclists. There’s never been a better time to get on your bike!

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