Top 5 Tips: Cycling Safely
I recently went cycling in Cyncoed on my new bike (Carrera Parva from Halfords: An expensive bike but it does seem to have a few problems so I will probably take it back) and then down the hill on the way to Roath Park.
I was cycling past Cardiff High School, when the chain on my bike came off and I had to quickly exit the road before something very bad happened.
Luckily there was a little grass area where I was able to park my bike and phone my dad for help (he was in North Wales at the time and he had to stop the car to speak to me). My dad is no bike expert but he has the same bike as me and it had happened to him before so I phoned him for help. To cut a long story short, I wasn't able to fix the chain because it was so messed up, and I had cars passing by me, with stupid arrogant people laughing their heads off at me (not that I cared because I just stared at them and they soon stopped).
I had to walk back up the hill again to get home, pushing my bike, with oil all over my hands and face. Anyway, I decided to write this article, to tell people the things they need to know before and when they go cycling.
Tip 1: Check the air in your tires and make sure you are in the right gear
Before you go cycling, it is a very good idea to check if your tires have gone down. If they have gone down significantly, pump them up. Also, check what gear you are in and see that the chain is on the right cogs at the back. If the chains are on the wrong cogs, then it's probably best to not go cycling because you won't know what gear you are in.
All bikes will have different gear systems and mine has Shimano gears, which you can just press a button and it will change the gear for you, showing the number in a little display window. Some bikes though, might just have a twist gear system where you twist the handle and put it on the gear you want, which works just in the same way.
Tip 2: Only cycle on the road if you have had training/stay safe on the road
In primary school, I was lucky enough to receive free training for cycling on the road, so I am now able to safely cycle on the road, but if you do not have much experience with right of ways, roundabouts and junctions, then it's probably best you stick to the pavement which is much safer and quicker [Editor's Note: The Highway Code states You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement (Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129)]. If you want to have training, then the charity Sustrans probably run that sort of thing (I think they are the people who ran my training). Cardiff Council's Road Safety Team also has training for cyclists.
When cycling on the road, always stay close to the pavement; don't go too close though because then you're at risk of colliding with it and you could fall off your bike. When you go around parked cars, always pull out quite a bit, because if someone doesn't see you in their wing mirror and they open the door, you could be knocked off your bike.
Tip 3: Wear suitable clothing/keep yourself safe
When cycling at any time of the day, it is always a very good idea to wear florescent clothing or light coloured clothing so people in cars can see you. The most important item of clothing to wear is obviously your helmet because without this, you are at risk of very serious injury or even death if an accident occurs.
It might be an idea to purchase flashing lights for the front and back of your bike to make you more visible when cycling in the night. You can also get indicators for your bike, which is very useful for cycling in the night.
Tip 4: Be prepared for anything
You can never be sure what might happen while you go cycling. I am not trying to scare you here because cycling is a very fun thing to do (I go on the Taff Trail about every week), but things will happen, and at some point in your life, you will experience something like what happened to me because after all, bikes don't last forever, do they?
So, it's a good idea to carry a mobile phoned with enough credit and battery charge, so that in an emergency, you can get a friend to pick you up or in very bad circumstances, maybe the emergency services could come to help you if you were stranded. Also, before you go cycling, you should put on warm clothes in case you have to wait for a while if you are stranded.
Tip 5: Don't try to fix it if you don't know how
Like what happened to me, it is probably best not to try to fix it because I think I actually made the bike worse than it was when I had to come off the road. If you don't know anything about bikes, then it is best to just leave it to the experts at the repair centre.
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