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HOW TO CYCLE BETTER

Less Chore More Fun

all seasons in one day

If only 3 in 100 people took up cycling instead of driving, New Zealand would save more than 1 billion dollars per year!

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OK, so cycling is never going to be as easy as riding a scooter or driving a car in terms of effort but then there are so many other advantages. It's good to read up and learn how to cycle better so that you can make it as easy and as safe for yourself as possible and cash in on those advantages, such as:

  • Cycling can be faster than a car but definitely faster than a bus
  • You get your daily exercise just getting to and from places
  • Bikes are super cheap to run (no tax/parking fees/WOF/parts are cheap
  • The more cyclists there are on roads the safer the roads will be
  • Cycling is better for the environment (I'm big on that kind of thing)
  • It is super pleasant for sightseeing alone or with friends

I could go on but it's time to get on with more important things:

RULES OF THE ROAD

As boring as it may seem, checking out the pdf on Cyclist Code and brushing up on what to do when and how could save your life. It's actually a well-put-together guide. Highlights include:

  • Bike parts, maintenance & gear guide
  • Rules of the road like getting in front of cars at stoplights/junctions, not hugging the left of the road - keeping in sight away from 'the door zone'
  • Road surface hazards like not breaking or steering sharply on white painted lines (bloody dangerous)

CYCLING TIPS

As a general rule of thumb check out 23 tips for best cycling to get some good advice on how to ride your bike and make riding it as trouble free for you as possible.

Highlights include:

  • Don't pedal in high gear for long periods
  • To avoid saddle soreness, get the right seat
  • After a long uphill, don't coast downhill
  • Watch out for storm drains, cattle guards, and rail-road tracks

WIND RAIN & HILLS And extra tips

Wellington throws a few problems in the face of those of us trying to enjoy a nice cycle ride, namely wind, rain and hills. You don't have to be an obsessive lycra clad mental to cycle in Wellington, but discretion and knowing what you can handle is vital.

WIND
Not too bad a problem but worth mentioning.

  • The best thing is to keep low. The lower you are the more out of the wind and stable you are. When you're riding into a head wind just dip your body a little bit, especially if you are coasting downhill in any wind conditions as you'll go faster and further.
  • For those surprise side-on gusts just lean a little towards the wind and get a little lower and you should be fine. Be ready to adjust back once it stops.
  • Learn problem areas on your route and stay aware, as in don't zone out until you're woken up by a problem.

RAIN
Truth is, there will be days when you simply don't want to battle the rain, but the most important thing is to know how much rain is too much for you and your bike to handle. Some bikes will be better equipped to grip the road and keep your bum dry (get mudguards or you're just making life difficult for yourself). Use good judgement to keep safe but don't wimp out because there's a quick shower... It's Wellington, it could be sunny in the next 5 minutes for all you know. When cycling in the rain:

  • Pump your brakes rather than holding them
  • Increase the distance you would normally expect to brake for, and the distance between you and cars/other cyclists
  • Stay off those white painted lines and markers on the road as they can be slippy when wet
  • Use a blinking light on the back at least

HILLS
This is the big one. Understanding a little more about riding those hills will really help you out. One article I found and agree with is on Riding Hills.

Highlights include:

  • Keep seated as much as possible
  • Breathe right
  • Keep a higher cadence in a comfortable low gear
  • Sit back on your seat to gain leverage

I would add that Wellington hills can go on and on (my ride home from work is about 25 mins of near solid hill climbing - fun getting to work though) so keeping comfortable with stable breathing and keeping mentally prepared to go for longer than you need to will help.

A few last tips to add:

  • Remember to change down your gears when slowing down for junctions, stop lights or adjusting them before starting/ending a hill. You need to do this every time and make it a habit or you could hold back traffic or lose control of your bike.
  • Braking downhill, signalling and keeping your eyes on cars, pot-holes and your up-coming turn all at the same time can be a bit much so just prioritise. Keep on a good straight line away from the absolute left, brake until at a comfortable speed, signal for the car behind you (I keep my arm out lower-about 45 degrees-so it's still seen but I'm more stable and nearer to my brakes), then brake again and do a final signal before turning.
  • Bend into corners downhill by angling your bike slightly towards it as this will help you keep at speed and on a safe line. Do so by adjusting the position of your pedals so that one is up (the one nearest the corner) and one is down (the opposite one). This will allow you to bend further in without hitting a pedal on the ground (a fatal mistake).
  • Going at speed downhill around bends means that no cars should be passing you until you are back on a straight. This will allow you to choose the correct line in and out of the bend, keep a good speed and not veer too close to a sudden drop.

Going into a right bend you should start on the left of your lane and steer/lean right, towards the middle of your lane at the bend and then swing back out to the left. Thus avoiding rushing off the edge of the road.
Going into a left bed you should swing out towards the middle of your lane and steer/lean left into the corner and then return to the left. Thus avoiding smashing into something you couldn't see around the bend.

  • Adjust your weight balance according to whether you are going up or down a steep hill. Going down you want to be nearer the back over the back wheel. Going up you want to have some weight over the front wheel or you will Wheelie and lose control or fall off.

Posted by Follow Me 15:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bikes new_zealand bicycle cycling wellington tips bicycles Comments (0)

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