From Bike Week to Le Tour De France it’s been an inspiring summer to get on your bikes and ride. But for those of us who haven’t got the wheels turning yet, it can be hard to know where to start. So we’ve put together our very own ‘Le Tour De Bridgend’ to help you get a handle on those handlebars. So, helmets on, let’s ride!
Before you pedal…
Put the pressure on
Simple bike maintenance is having your tyres pumped to the right pressure. But what is the right pressure? That’s simple too, you’ll find it written on the sidewall of your tyres, take a look.
Saddles that are too low make it hard to use your full pedalling range and leg power, whereas saddles that are too high have you straining and can lead to injury. Ideally, you need your saddle height set so there is a very slight kink at your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. A very simple rule of thumb is, when in your typical riding posture you want the handlebar obscuring your view of the front wheel hub.
Cycling isn’t supposed to be painful, so if you find you’re starting to develop backache or any other ailment, pop to your local bike shop to see if they can help adjust your position.
Dress up (and down)
Weather can change quickly so layer your clothes so you can cool down or warm up. In extremely hot weather, check out Cycling UK’s tips on clothing recommendations and don’t forget your SPF! And to always wear a helmet when cycling.
What to bring along for the ride…
Food and water
Avoid dehydration and energy depletion by packing fluid and some ride rations. Snacks like a banana or flapjack for a quick burst of energy will help refuel you.
A good pair of padded cycling shorts help with comfort while you build up time and distance. They also help avoid saddle sores.
Cycling gloves and mitts
Hands can fatigue quite quickly, so a good pair of padded gloves or mitts will help.
A puncture repair kit and mini-pump are handy tools, as well as a spare inner tube to help with common mid-ride problems. A multi-tool with a range of bits can also be handy to adjust most mechanical components.
For your first bike ride a great place to build your confidence is the Ogmore Valley Trail as it’s traffic-free. Or aim to cover around 5 miles and then build up your distance, so that you don’t over do it. Little and often is the best way to increase strength and confidence.
Cycling alone can be a great way to enjoy some solitude and take in the beauty of Bridgend without distractions. But riding with other people is great fun too. Having some cycling buddies will help all aspects of your cycling develop much more quickly and teamwork and communication is great for your mental health. Bridgend Social Cycling Club has rides for beginners and all levels to get involved in.
It’s great to head out on the open road or trail and see where the day takes you but it’s also rewarding to have a ride challenge set out in advance. Check out some of Bridgend’s best routes through Bridgend with Sustrans mapping. Cycling UK’s journey planner and area guide are also a great help with exciting routes across the county.