If you’ve bought a bike this summer – you’re far from alone. But how can you prevent your new two wheeled friend from becoming unused by Christmas?
Following a hugely successful year for GB’s cycling team, bike sales have been booming. Ribble Cycles recently told us they’d seen an 85 per cent increase in the sale of sportive bikes and a 45 per cent increase in bike sales overall.
Many of these bikes will have been eagerly rolled out of the garage (shed/house) with immediate effect and ridden for miles of smiles ever since. But not all of them.
Recent stats tell us that 43 per cent of people over the age of five in the UK own a bike, yet just 7 per cent cycle once a month. That’s an awful lot of bicycles gathering dust in the garage. We feel dreadfully sorry for those poor unused bikes.
If you (or a friend) have bought a bike but not ridden it nearly as much as you (or they) planned – here are a few tips to remedy the situation…
Get good kit
The autumn months are on the way. Once they’re gone, winter will arrive. Admittedly winter can bring with it difficult riding conditions, but autumn can actually be one of the best seasons to ride. You’re not likely to overheat, and once warmed up conditions are often ideal.
They key when it comes to autumn riding is to layer up. Arm warmers, leg warmers, overshoes and packable wind and rain resistant jackets are the October riders best friends. These layers make stepping out the door much easier and you can slip them off as your body temperature increases. And we all know stepping out the door is half the battle.
Fear of a mechanical failure is one of the major concerns stopping people from riding their new bikes. Or an existing mechanical problem that seems like far too much hassle to fix.
The number one worry is that you’ll suffer a puncture. The good news here is that you absolutely do not have to walk five miles to the nearest bike shop to have a mechanic fix it for you. You can fix a puncture. We’ve got a guide to help you here, and we recommend you practice when you’re warm and dry at home until the procedure feels like second nature. It honestly only takes a few attempts.
Other key issues include gears that don’t work properly, poorly adjusted brakes, and rusty chains. None of these issues mean the bike 'doesn't work'. Your bike needs a bit of TLC sometimes, just like your car needs filling with petrol (only cheaper in the long run). Here’s a few guides to help you:
If you feel like concerns over maintenance are becoming a real hurdle, it might be worth going on a short maintenance course. Various bike shops offer these, some with female specific nights where you can learn alongside other women. Evans Cycles is probably the largest chain offering this nationwide with their FixIt! classes.
Confidence comes largely through experience – testing your limits, receiving positive reinforcement through success, and pushing through those limits once again.
If it’s confidence on the roads you struggle with, then there are a few ways you can tackle your fears. Firstly – try riding with a friend who is already comfortable interacting with other roads users, and read up on how to cycle defensively to help ensure you're riding in a way that encourages others to give you enough space (yes, they should do it automatically but we don't live in a perfect world).
If it’s confidence with long distances, hills, or just fitting in with the cycling population that’s bothering you, we’ve got a full catalogue of common struggles and how to overcome them in your head here.
Set a goal
Having a goal in mind is a great way to make sure you get out on your bike.
There are so many goals you could set yourself. You could base your intentions around achieving a certain distance, completing a journey in a certain time, riding a specific event such as a sportive, or a fitness objective such as losing weight.
There are loads of tools you can use to track your rides – but Strava is probably the easiest and most user friendly. Just download the app to your phone, and hit ‘start’ every time you ride.
If you think setting a goal could help you, write it down now and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Good luck!
Go with friends
Most activities are best completed with friends. So if you’re struggling to motivate yourself to get out on your new bike alone, then recruiting some cycling colleagues might be a good idea.
If you’ve already got friends who are receptive to the idea of cycling – then that’s great. If not, then it might be time to check out your local cycling club. There’s no need to be intimidated by the idea of joining your local ‘cc’, ‘wheelers’ gang or ‘paragon’. Most welcome beginners with open arms, and any that don’t can be quickly discarded - there’s no doubt another friendlier club a stones throw away (and even some women’s only clubs if that’s your preference). There are groups for roadies and mountain bikers – check out these tips for your first club ride.
Good luck getting out on the bike more often - we hope these tips help you.
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