CONGRATULATIONS on purchasing your first bicycle! Now, you may wonder, “Where should I go for a ride?”
In this feature, we will guide you through the necessary preparations for your first cycling adventure.
Before embarking on the ride, ensure you have the essential riding gear. This includes a bicycle helmet, gloves, shorts or padded pants, and tools.
While a helmet may not be mandatory in Malaysia, it is strongly encouraged to prevent head injuries.
Ensure the helmet fits properly, and consider purchasing one from a reputable brand.
Cycling gloves provide a better grip on the bike handles and offer protection in case of a fall, preventing cuts and abrasions on the hands.
Additionally, wearing shorts or padded pants will help alleviate discomfort, such as “saddle sore,” arising from extended periods of sitting on the bike.
Bicycle shops offer a variety of shorts and padded pants with different levels of padding and sizes.
If you plan to ride in densely populated areas with heavy vehicle traffic, you should equip your bicycle with lights.
Front and rear lights enhance your visibility throughout the day and inform incoming traffic of your presence.
Some cyclists also attach a bell to their bikes.
It is a courteous way to alert pedestrians and oncoming vehicles.
Carrying a saddle bag containing bicycle tools and spare tyre tubes will prove convenient in case of a puncture.
Before setting off, perform a three-step check: adjust the seat post, check the brakes, and align the handlebars.
These steps ensure a proper and comfortable riding position and adequately functioning brakes for junctions and turns.
Once you have your riding gear ready and your bike in good condition, it’s time to hit the road.
For beginners, your housing estate is an ideal starting point.
Start with a shorter route, less than one kilometre, to familiarise yourself with your bike and its settings.
Next, consider purchasing a bicycle odometer to track and log the distances travelled.
Keeping a mileage log allows you to monitor the wear and tear on your tyres, brakes, and rims.
Remember to send the bicycle for scheduled maintenance every 300km or five months.
Advanced bicycle meters with GPS capabilities are available to gather more detailed ride data.
These can provide accurate information on land speed and distance.
Some GPS-equipped bike devices even allow a cyclist to navigate to waypoints set by other cyclists.
Practise cycling around your home to help build confidence and ensure the bicycle remains roadworthy.
As your confidence grows, gradually increase the distance of the rides.
Next, consider exploring a slightly longer route, such as a 5km loop around the neighbourhood.
Gated and guarded housing estates can be great options for beginners, as they offer a safer environment away from heavy vehicle traffic that may startle new riders.
Additionally, some newer townships on the outskirts of the Klang Valley have integrated bicycle lanes, providing residents with excellent opportunities to cycle around.
Living in such a location gives you an advantage, allowing you to gain more mileage and experience on your bicycle.
Once you feel confident in your abilities and the roadworthiness of your bike, you should venture beyond your neighbourhood.
Exploring new areas will introduce you to like-minded individuals who share your passion for cycling.