From puncture-repair kits to advice on how to clean that chain, Ciaran Lennon shares his top 10 tips for making cycling easier...
Looking to step up your cycling? Cyclist and sportswriter Ciaran Lennon has ten handy tips for getting into gear.
1. Be puncture-ready
They’re the bane of every cyclist’s existence, but there’s no need to find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere. All you need is a spare tube, a mini-pump, some tyre levers and little bit of practice taking your tyre off.
2. Use your gears
Don’t spend too long pushing a higher gear. Let the gears help you pedal at a steady rhythm and you’ll be able to cycle for longer, without expending as much energy.
3. Clean the chain
Clean your chain regularly with some bike oil and an old rag. Grit on your chain and within your drive-train will wear away some of the more expensive components on your bike. By wiping down your chain you’ll avoid the dreaded creak, reduce wear and tear and increase the efficiency of your pedalling.
4. Get the right fit
Helmets are like shoes – the most important criteria for a helmet is getting a good fit to sit properly. Visit your local bike shop and choose one that sits snugly on your head.
5. Check the tyre pressure
Check your type pressure against the PSI numbers on the side of your tyre. The right air pressure will increase efficiency and may reduce the chances of getting punctures. A floor pump is a good investment — you’ll use it again and again.
6. Fit mud guards
They will save your clothes, your washing machine and anyone who is riding behind you.
7. Finish with the wind
Check the wind direction before you set out. If possible it’s best to finish with the wind at your back as your legs are tiring. And on greenways use the shuttle service to your advantage if possible. Riding into an even modest breeze approaching Achill can be like scaling a small mountain.
8. Saddle height
Sitting too low will limit your pedalling range and leg power; saddles that are too high have you straining and can lead to injury. Your saddle height should be set so there is a slight bend at your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
9. No hanging around
Don’t wear clothes, or bags, that might get caught in the wheels or chain. And don’t cycle with a helmet hanging from your handlebars.
10. Ring your bell
Greenways are great for cycling but can also be busy with walkers (and dog walkers) — this is where that bell comes in handy. Don’t be shy about ringing it!
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In years to come when we are watching the inevitable Reeling in the Years review of 2020, one of the positive storylines that may feature from these strange days is how our love affair with the bicycle has been re-ignited.