I bought my road bike, a Trek Lexa SL back in 2013 for the London Duathlon. I had been offered a media space and while the concept was definitely out of my comfort zone I am always one for taking on new challenges! At the time I lived about 6 miles from my job, and thought that I would commute to work on my new bike, thus getting in some training for the duathlon and becoming a more competent, confident road cyclist.
In reality this didn’t really happen. While I definitely did some training for the event, even including a brick session in Richmond Park, I only cycled to work a couple of times. And after the duathlon – which I enjoyed despite the pouring rain! – the bike went in the cupboard to be neglected for a couple of years, particularly once I moved to Croydon.
I entered the ballot for RideLondon in a last ditch attempt to perhaps “shock” myself into getting back in the saddle again, not really expecting to get a place. I was in fact getting ready to sell my Trek Lexa in the spring of 2016 once the weather began to improve and people started thinking about buying a bike.
Then of course I got that magazine through the door that said “Congratulations!” and the plan changed!
From February 2016 to July 2016, the journey to Becoming a Cyclist “Take 2” took place, with the main aim to increase my confidence on the bike and on the roads. Here’s how I did it…
Gaining Confidence with Road Cycling
- Cycle with other people – if you’re a bit nervous of getting lost, not knowing how to behave on the roads, or simply want someone else for a bit of moral support heading out with friends or a cycling club is a great idea. I discovered that this has to be someone who doesn’t make you feel bad for being slow, and is totally happy with scheduled coffee and cake stops!
- Get your bike serviced so it performs well – having the confidence in the machinery of your bike will mean that you won’t worry about braking in time, cornering safely in the wet and generally knowing that it will go the distance.
- Learn about cycling safely – I never completed a cycling proficiency test when I was a child, which is something that I know a lot of people did in school. However, I passed my driving test 11 years ago, and now know the rules of the road and where it’s safer for cyclists to ride. If in doubt, think like a car and adopt a much more aggressive/dominant position. i.e. At traffic lights go in the middle of the lane, not squeezed alongside a bus – and always be cautious and sensible. There is no shame in getting off your bike at a huge roundabout and walking it to the other side if it makes you feel safer!
- Plan, plan, plan – plan your route before you head out, so you know where you’re going, how many miles you’re aiming to get done and what the surface is like – road, trail, cyclepath etc. Always carry a pump, inner tube, puncture repair kit, your phone and money for a taxi/train if it all goes horribly wrong!
- Just get out there – at the end of the day, the biggest thing for me in terms of gaining confidence was just to go and do it. Sometimes building up a challenge in your head to be scarier than it actually is can be a bigger barrier than the reality itself! Once I got over the initial fear, I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed myself.
Six months on, I’ve completed London to Brighton and RideLondon and will definitely be signing myself up for more cycling challenges! While I still do get the occasional butterflies and will always choose quieter routes over main roads, I can really see how much my confidence has grown.
Are you anxious about cycling on the road? How have you overcome a fear in the past?
This is a sponsored post in partnership with Halfords. I received a Carrera Subway 1 women’s hybrid bike as part of the campaign, which is a fantastic option for beginner cyclists.