In no order, entirely subjective, and largely written to myself.

1: Go Smooth on Roads

Commuting or getting to the shops isn’t about speed. Remember, you’re already going a hundred times faster than if you were walking. You’re already getting huge boosts by riding. You don’t need to go full pelt.

Zone 2 is sweaty. Just go smooth.

2: Treks are Fun

Bridleways, longs stretches of canal, straight roads with decent visibility. Push on these. That’s fun.

These are places where cycling is the activity. Not just getting somewhere, but going out of the way to chase the swift dragon of cooling wind and thundering heart and ear-to-ear grinning.

3: Be a Patient Road User

Annoyance is a choice. Sometimes it is difficult to be kind, but you can always chose to be.

That person that just pulled out when they shouldn’t? They won’t drive safer by you getting mad. They’ll get defensive and you both get flustered. Stress isn’t a good vibe on the road.

No harm, no foul. Smile and give a little nod. You’ll both know what happened.

4: Indicators Indicate Danger, Not Direction

A driver, or cyclist, or horse rider indicating to go right might not mean you can go around on the left. It just means slow down.

They might be pulling into the parking bay to the right, rather than turning down the street right. In that case, they’ll still plan on moving forwards rather than immediately right. They won’t be looking at their left mirror.

When they pull forwards, that feels like they’re cutting you off. They’re not: you made a mistake.

5: The Wind Hates You

Gusts above 25 miles an hour are heavy, and you will feel it change the direction of your bike. Don’t ride if you can avoid it.

Gusts about 30 miles an hour feel like someone has pushed you whilst riding. You must not ride.

6: The Air Will Try to Blind You

When you’re going forwards at 15 miles per hour, the air is punching your eyes at 15 miles per hour.

Your eyes can handle it, but your tear layer cannot. First, your eyes get watery, forcing you to pull over and wipe your eyes. You look like a child doing this. “Did that guy just pull over to have a cry?” Second, that burnt away water is not easily replaced. Blinking won’t do it. After a while, you’ll need drops, which take time to work and repair.

“You’re not feeling tired all the time,” the optician told me. “You’re in pain. Your eyes hurt.”

Glasses are not protection enough, at least not the kind I wear. You want big things. Sun glasses are a marked improvement. Wrap around glasses solve the issue completely - and remarkably. Riding will feel very different.

7: Your Bike Shop is Infinitely Better than the Internet

These folk are bike nerds and for some reason, as a rule, care more about biking than capitalism. They’ll give you good, honest advice.

I went into my bike shop with a cheap bike and said, verbatim, “I’d like you to talk me into buy a new bike,” and they said, “I think we can fix that one.” They’re good people, bike people.

They will also sometimes give you mechanical help for free - tightening a loose bolt or helping get your seat to the right height.

Make friends with your local shop.

7: That Bolt that Attaches the Rear Tyre has an Orientation and Won’t Go In Any Other Way

Bikes are not computers. You can see almost all of the components by eye. You can repair this, I have faith in you.

The first time you do it, it will be very frustrating. The tyre will snag on the chain as you’re trying to pull it out. The chain feels too rusty to repair. The dirt feels too deep. It took me almost two hours to patch up my first puncture.

The second time you do it will fly by. It took me 15 minutes to patch up my second puncture, including drying time.

8: Your Bike is Largely Waterproof

Don’t worry about getting water or soap in the wrong place. Use a hose to spray off the worst of the muck. Soak the chain in degreaser and use a bike soap for everywhere else. Regrease the chain, remove the excess, and dry the bike. You’ll be good to go.

Don’t spray high pressure water in places that go around. (Pedals, cassette.) You’ll break the bearings. Don’t get degreaser in your break bits.

9: Cycling isn’t Expensive

You don’t need much. Don’t use this as an excuse. I’m buying some prescription cycling goggles (see 6) that are hitting around £300. They’re not even Oakleys. But in the meanwhile, I’m using £12, on offer, glasses from Evans.

10: Don’t be Cheap

You’ll regret wasting money on the cheap multitool whose hex key deforms as you use it. Spend what you’re able to and it’ll be cheaper. The £15 pannier I got from Halfords is a massive regret for me. It’s useless. The £70 AGU will last me forever, I think.

11: No One Agrees on how to Pronounce Pannier.

Don’t feel silly rolling through each way you think it could be said. ‘Side bag’ works too.

You should get one. It doesn’t change the way the bike feels to just have one. You probably want two.

You should not wear a backpack. They’re hot and sweaty.

12: Trains are Allies

Ride far, using, and then get the train back. It’s the done thing and more than doubles your range for the day.

13: Glow like an Angel

Those dress-in-black-with-no-lights Uber Eats drivers are idiots. They are not trend setters and you should not let them peer pressure you into thinking invisible is good. Surprise is not a vibe for the roads.

Buy a high vis jacket. Not just a jacket with high vis stripes. The entire thing should be high vis. They should see you from miles away.

Be very visible at all times.

14: Take Space

You have a right to be on the roads too. That comes with an obligation to follow the highway code - just because you don’t have a drivers license doesn’t opt you out of that. But if you’re following the rules, take space.

Sometimes, when turning right, you’ll have to wait for oncoming traffic to dissipate. That might take a while, and there might be a queue of cars behind you waiting to also go right. This is okay. Those cars would be waiting anyway, if you weren’t there. (Avoid stopping straight-on traffic if you can, by nudging forwards, but again: be safe.)

They may wait longer, because you can’t accelerate the same way through smaller gaps. That doesn’t matter though. Take space to be safe. At the end of the day, they’re still warm, comfortable, and going to go home at 30 miles per hour. Waiting behind a cyclist is a first world problem.

15. Practise Looking Behind You

When you look over your shoulder, you’ll pull the handle bars with you. This is bad and you must learn to stop doing that. You cannot ride in the road if you cannot look behind you without swerving.

16: Get Out the Bike Lane if You Don’t Feel Safe

The presence of a bike lane does not limit you to the bike lane.

Sometimes, these are not safe places to be, despite the care spent on them by the council.

Cars often park alongside them (if not on them) and there is a high risk of them opening a door without being able to see you coming.

You do not need to ride through glass or pot holes to stay in the cycle lane.

If you’re coming up to a roundabout, cycle lanes get all out of whack. Move into the road.

To move into the road, act like you’re merging in a car. Look first. Indicate. Wait for the cars to give you space (they probably will).

17. Get at least a Gold Standard Lock

You want a big, chunky D lock that’s annoying to carry around (but, see: 11). It should come with a chain. The chain is next to useless against bike thieves, but you are supposed to put it around your front tyre and hook in into the D lock. It avoids kids using the quick release on the tyre to be jerks.

The two hoops of the chain don’t have to go through the D lock. Thread the chain through the front tyre, thread one of the hoops through the other hoop. That gives you a much longer chain to play with.

Your insurance, if you have any, will limit the kind of locks you’re allowed to use. Double check.

18. E-bikes are Still Useful for Exercise

You should buy a power assisted bike. These bikes just amplify your peddling, and the motor stops quickly after you stop peddling. You’re still working. You just go faster.

The Uber Eats bikes you see where they’re going up hill at 20mph without peddling? I think they might not be legal. Or at least turn into a moped (which needs a license?).

You want to be peddling.

19. Turn Off the Power Assist When Turning Around

You can’t do a tight turn when the motor is throwing you forwards. Remember to turn it down.

And anyway, sometimes it’s nice to set the power to 0 and enjoying a heavy bike for a bit.

20. Experiment With Clothing

It’ll take you ages, but you’ll get used to the weather and what clothes to wear. You can’t really take a Youtuber’s advice on this: your body is gloriously weird.

In the winter, you want wind breaking trousers and jacket though.

21. Gears

Gears have very little to do with speed.

When cycling, you want to have a consistent cadence, regardless of if you’re going up a hill or on a flat path. Cadence is how many times in a minute you peddle. After cycling for some time, you’ll learn your “zone 1” (low heart rate, comfortable) cadence. Later on, you can run through the gears looking for the one that allows you to do that pace, whilst always feeling the “bite” (that your peddling is doing something, and not just spinning). When you change terrain or elevation, you’ll tweak your gears up or down to keep your peddling pace the same.

22. Tyre Pressure

Buy a pump that stands up, and you step on, and then you churn the lever. Buy a pump with a pressure dial. Those hand ones are just for lightweight emergencies.

The range of pressure your tyre should be at is on the side of your tyre (probably). If you get the pressure wrong you’ll feel slow riding, like you’re dragging the bike rather than riding it. Also, you’ll get many, many more punctures. If you hit a bump with low pressure, it’s possible to jam your inner tube against the rim of your wheel, puncturing it. A snakebite.

Check your tyres are alright every day. Some leaks are overnight leaks.

23. Speed Bumps

If your tyre pressure is correct, speed bumps aren’t a big deal. You might catch some air time, but your bike probably won’t. The most important thing to be aware of when you encounter speed bumps is that they’re there for a reason. There are kids or vulnerable people around. Maybe slow down and think about that patience from earlier.

Cars are a whole different thing though. For some reason, they feel the need to drop from 30mph to 3mph. They slam on their breaks to avoid the bump. If you’re behind a car in a speed bump area, slow right down and give the car space.