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Abley Apr 20244 min read

There’s never been a better time to ride your bike!

aotearoa bike challengeWhen did you last ride a bike? Thinking about giving it a go?

Cycling is better for the planet, your wallet and your wellbeing, so what is not to love? Switching out those short car trips for a ride on your bike can have a massive impact on your carbon emissions while adding more exercise to your day. I promise it’s fun, affordable and surprisingly time efficient.

With the Aotearoa Bike Challenge taking place this month there has been no better time to hop on your bike. The sun is shining, and days are long. You can enter the challenge for free any time this month, as an individual or as part of a workplace, clock your kilometres and be in to win awesome prizes. Switching out those regular car trips for a spin on your bike will make you feel good. So, why not challenge yourself to ride this month and sign up today!

Whether you are new to riding your bike or it’s been a few years, here are a few of my top tips to getting on your bike with confidence.

1. Get the basics ready

When starting out, just get yourself the basics. Find a reliable bike, look for one second hand on Trade Me or visit your local bike shop. If your bike has been sitting gathering dust for a while check it is still running well, pump air into the tyres, check the brakes are working, and the chain is still turning (hopefully quietly). Once you have a bike up and running it is well worth investing in a solid lock too.

Buy yourself a well-fitting helmet because protecting your head in the unlikely event of an accident is extremely important. If you expect to be cycling in the dark get yourself some rechargeable lights and reflective gear so you can be seen. Over time I recommend investing in quality wet weather gear so you can ride no matter what. No need for lycra or specialist shoes, just hop on your bike in what you feel comfortable in and go – it doesn’t need to cost a lot.

2. Practice your riding skills

Before you hit the streets find somewhere quiet to practice your bike handling skills. Practice stopping quickly and safely, turning and indicating with one hand. It is important that you feel confident on your bike, but all good things take time so be patient. If you feel that you need more guidance search for beginner bike programmes in your local area or take a look on the Bike Ready website to get started.

When you are cycling on the road it can feel intimidating at first. Be confident in your manoeuvres and place yourself safely out from parked cars. Here are some handy cycling confidence tips. Also check out your local council (eg Christchurch City Council), who may have some tips for riding in your local area.

Remember, you are not a nuisance to traffic, you are traffic!

3. Plan your route

When you jump on your bike you will soon find that there is a faster and safer route to take than the one you may usually drive. Thankfully you don’t need to ride on those noisy main roads. Look out for cycle lanes and cycle paths which make cycling a lot safer and more enjoyable.

When planning your route give the Abley cycle routing tool a go. This tool helps you plan your cycling journey providing three route alternatives depending on your preference for speed versus quietness. The tool enables you to compare routes and travel times which should be super handy. 

cycle routing map

Another source of knowledge is other people; ask your friends and colleagues which way they cycle, and I am sure you will get some handy insider knowledge on the back routes and shortcuts. Most councils have great cycling maps and information available on their websites. Check these out for where you live and find the best routes for you. I’ve linked a few key ones here.

4. Get a bike buddy

Having someone to cycle with can make the journey a whole lot more social, just adding to the experience. If you are new to cycling or looking for more confidence, find yourself a friend who can cycle with you. They will be able to show you the ropes and give you some tips. If you don’t know anyone to ride with reach out to your council or local community groups who often run lessons.

5. Give yourself time

At first cycling may take a little longer so allow yourself extra time as you get into the swing of it. If you feel nervous about switching up your commute, take some time in the weekend to do a trial ride and grab a coffee. You could time yourself, so you know how much time to allow. Starting a new habit is hard and requires commitment so give yourself time to adjust. Hopefully, by the end of the month you will be hoping on your bike without a second thought.

Working from home? Set aside time to ride!

In this new age of working from home you may find it that your days are easily spent sitting at your desk with little incidental exercise. It’s highly important you take a break away from your desk, move your body and get some fresh air. While you might not be getting your daily commute on your bike, why not block out some time in your day to go for a ride around your area and clock the km’s (and the Aotearoa Bike Challenge badges) while you do it?

Abley group photo with their bikes