I love riding my bike, but I’m not sporty in the slightest. Sometimes I feel intimidated by all the other cyclists who dress in Lycra, ride expensive-looking contraptions, and zip in-between cars like it’s an extreme sport. How do you get comfortable riding a bike when you don’t fit this cyclist stereotype?
Here are some lessons I have learnt in my adventures riding my bike around the Adelaide CBD:
- Cycling does take some preparation! When I decided that I wanted to start riding last year, I had an old, squeaky second-hand bike and very little experience riding a bike on actual roads. Before being able to start riding regularly, I had to find bike lights, a bell, and a bike lock. I spent ages looking for a helmet on Gumtree and then also had to install a basket to carry all my stuff.
- You might get overtaken, regularly. I am not very fit, and so it is pretty common for other cyclists to overtake me. At first I was embarrassed, but I have come to accept my place at the bottom of the cycling speed hierarchy.
- Get to know where the bike lanes are! Some people are brave enough to ride where there are no bike lanes, but not I. Over several months, I have built up a mental map of which streets have good bike lanes and which streets are full of peril for cyclists! Hot tip: the Frome Street bike-way is the queen of all bike lanes in the city.
- While cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as cars, they are also allowed to ride on the footpath, and this is totally okay to do as long as you look out for pedestrians. I ride on the footpath pretty frequently when it doesn’t feel safe to ride on the road.
- Prepare for the weather! Riding a bike means you are exposed to the elements, and so being prepared with a raincoat or sunscreen will prevent weather misery. Sometimes being prepared for the weather means cutting your losses and catching the bus on those really hot or windy days. Being an Un-Sporty cyclist means you may not have the motivation to brave the storm like our brave friends in Lycra.
Cycling means something different to everyone. For some people, it’s a sport that they are passionate about. For others, it is simply the cheapest and most convenient method of transport. Some people try to cycle more as a way of reducing their environmental impact. Some people don’t like cycling or are not physically able to cycle. For me, cycling got a whole lot better once I stopped worrying about what the other cyclists would think of me and just did it my own way.