A guide to becoming a confident city cyclist

Cycling is a fun way of getting in shape, moving around the city and taking in cityscapes, even if you’re a local. The cities are usually slammed with traffic congestion, and as a cyclist, you get an opportunity to get ahead. Whether you’re cycling for leisure or practising for your first big road race, it’s a thrilling adventure to undertake.

But for most beginners, the bustle of the city can be terrifying. Understandably so, especially when you will have to manoeuvre between cars. However, it’s not all bad, some cities in South Africa have become bike-friendly cities. Major cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban now have dedicated cycling lanes for active individuals. 

If that doesn’t make you feel any better, understand that there are a few things you can do to calm your nerves and ease into urban cycling. That starts with preparation, and once that’s done, you can trust yourself to give city cycling a good spin. Below, we’ve listed a practical guide on how to get into city cycling, including ideas on which bicycle shops in Cape Town you can visit to get your cycling apparel and biking accessories.

Knowledge is power

The first step to preparation is having the knowledge for road cycling. Do some research on the road rules for cyclists. These will help you understand what you’re allowed to do on the road, as well as what to do to keep yourself and other drivers on the road safe. For example, one of the rules for South African cyclists is that you’re allowed to ride in single file, except when overtaking another pedal cycle. You’ll also learn that you’re not allowed to carry an animal or object which has the potential to obstruct your view or prevent you from exercising complete control over the movements of such pedal cycle. Safety is important, knowing the rules will help you know how to practice safety on the road.

Route check

Check online for bicycle routes and lanes around your city. Narrow the search to the best cycling routes near you. Get an overview of what’s around, or surrounding the routes. For example, is it a bike lane with just city views around it or is it surrounded by shops? Which will indicate that there will be people around. Knowing this information will help you to become a mindful and prepared city cyclist. If you know any other cyclist around your area, it would be good to ask them to tag along with you, should you need the extra support. 

Get your bike ready 

At this point, you know the rules and you are sure of your preferred route, you might even have a friend or acquaintance tagging along. If your bike doesn't feel comfortable, or it's the reason for your anxiety on the road, simply visit Chris Willemse Cycling’s bike shop online platform to order one. You can do the same if your bike needs a little facelift and be kitted with new bike parts

Don’t forget bike safety 

You also need to take care of your bike and make sure that it is safe. Whether you plan to make a short stop somewhere, you should always have, and carry a bike lock to lock your bike. Be sure to properly lock the bike on an immovable object at the parking spot, to try and avoid your bike being stolen. The bike should work efficiently. All the parts should be well oiled, aligned, in position and responsive to your movements. Riding your bike should feel easy, comfortable and safe. Carry all necessary biking tools and spares with you at all times in case of emergency repairs and maintenance.

Get cycling gear

When it comes to what to wear when cycling, don’t think your joggers and t-shirt will do. You need cycling-specific apparel, as these items are designed for you to handle any weather that you will experience during your ride. Cycling clothing is also created to protect you from any potential crashes, which might lead to injuries. Some of these items are padded to offer you extra support during your ride. With that being said, you need to get yourself cycling shorts, tights, jersey, jacket, socks and shoes. You can also get a helmet, gloves, body warmers and Oakley sunglasses for the sunny days. Protection is key. 

In the end, you should be able to enjoy cycling without overwhelming yourself with nerves by things you can work around. Do your research, talk to other cyclists, find out what works for them and learn the rules. Always stay prepared and you will become a confident city cyclist in no time. Visit Chris Willemse Cycles today to order all your biking gears, parts and accessories.