Hints & Tips

Beginners: Where to get cycle training

Cycling has many benefits – it’s great exercise, and it can save you money, and most importantly it’s fun!

However, if you’ve been out of the saddle for a while, getting started again can be a bit unnerving. This is where some cycle training can make all the difference.

[New to cycling and looking to boost your fitness on the bike? Check out our Simple Cycle Commute Training tips]

A lot of courses will start you off in a park or playing field, so you don’t need to worry about traffic. Image copyright OurLocality on Flickr

Why training?

Cycle training is a great way to get to grips with the basics of cycling in a friendly, easy and non-intimidating environment.

The skills you learn will make you a better and more confident cyclist. You’ll know how to interact with other road users safely, how to make sure your bike is safe to ride, and how to navigate the roads, junctions and roundabouts you’ll encounter when out and about.

If you’ve never ridden at all before, there are even courses that will teach you how to ride from the very beginning. Many of these will have bikes you can borrow to learn on, so you don’t even need to fork out on a bike to get started.

Who is it for?

There’s training available to suit every level of rider, whether you’ve been riding for a while and want to brush up your skills, or you’re just starting out. Specific training and courses are aimed at;

  • Complete beginners, who’ve never ridden before
  • Returners or beginners, who’ve cycled a little before
  • Experienced cyclists, who would like a recap
  • Adults cycling with a child
  • Children, usually through school-organised training
  • People with disabilities

What does it cover?

Instructors on a cycle course will teach you skills based around the UK’s National Standards for Cycling, set by the Department for Transport.

The cycle instructors themselves need to have completed the National Standard Instructor Course to become an officially recognised and accredited instructor, so look out for this qualification when you’re on the hunt for a course or trainer.

If you’ve been looking into cycle training, you’ve probably heard of ‘Bikeability’. This is a course syllabus that’s structured around the National Standards, and allows participants to progress through three different skill levels. Bikeability is used by lots of different cycle training providers, including British Cycling and the CTC (the National Cycling Charity).

Courses can be pitched at different levels, depending on the needs of the group or individual, but will usually cover the following, and more;

  • Basic bike safety check
  • Getting on and off the bike
  • Stopping quickly and safely
  • Riding with one hand
  • Identifying road hazards
  • How to signal to other traffic
  • The Highway Code and road signs
  • Navigating junctions and roundabouts
  • How to pass traffic safely
A bit of training will get you riding confidently in no time. Copyright Phil Hall

Where can you do it?

There are literally hundreds of courses running all the time and all over the country. Local authorities and councils will often run free training sessions with an accredited trainer that you can join; these can fill up fast so book in advance!

If you want to cycle to work, you can ask your employer to organise a cycle training course for you and your colleagues. The CTC run ‘commuter tutor’, a bespoke course, which will take you through the main situations you are likely to encounter on your ride in.

Lots of trainers offer one-to-one tuition, which is perfect if you’d like to work on some specific situations or skills, or would prefer not to learn in a group.

Where to find a course

A quick google search will unveil a wealth of options for cycle training. It’s certainly worth checking your local authority or council, as a lot of them will provide free cycle training.

There are lots of other organisations, companies and charities that hold training sessions, and we’ve collected a few together here. This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you’ve got one to add and recommend, please share it in the comments section!

CTC (The National Cycling Charity)
Find out more about the Commuter Tutor training, and the Bikeability courses CTC run.

Transport for London
If you’re London based, the Transport for London website has some excellent resources for finding cycle training, including an online form you can use to request training in your London Borough.

Cycle Training UK
This is a not-for-profit workers cooperative, used by several London Councils, including Brent, Hackney, Lewisham, Ealing and City of London.

Cycle Confident
An accredited training provider, Cycle Confident provide a range of courses, working with businesses and several London boroughs.

The ever-helpful Breeze website has a list of links to cycle training courses and providers literally all over the country.

Cycling Scotland
There’s a range of courses available, run in conjunction with Transport Scotland, most of which are based around Edinburgh.

An accredited training provider, who provide a huge range of courses. They also run free training in the Manchester, Newcastle and Warrington areas. Visit the website for more details.

What next?

If you’ve done a course, and you’ve enjoyed it, hopefully you’ll be feeling much more confident and happy on your bike. Don’t stop there!

Want more social time on your bike? Get more time in the saddle by going out for rides with your local Breeze Champion. Organised by British Cycling, these women’s specific social rides are fun, informal and pitched at various levels of rider so you can ride well within your comfort zone. Find a Breeze ride near you!

Got the bug? You could look into doing a charity ride like the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton ride. It’s a long but do-able distance, and best of all it’s on closed roads so you don’t need to worry about traffic! Plus there’s the motivation of people cheering you along as you ride.

Ride a lot in traffic or on busy roads? You can really boost your commuting and road skills with a special course from British Cycling – Effective Traffic Riding.

Get someone else cycling! Riding with a buddy is one of the best ways to enjoy life on two wheels. Now you’re feeling confident, encourage your friends and family to take it up too.

Headline image copyright OurLocality on Flickr

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