Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to Spot a New Road Cyclist

I don't know about you, but often I pull aside someone and have a chat when out and about.  Whether novice or experienced, a quick 'How long are you out for?' or 'How far you going today?' sparks up a conversation.

Riding yesterday and pulling alongside a cyclist I commented that it was "good to see so many new cyclists on the road".  Replying the cyclist in question replied 'How do you know I'm a new road cyclist?' to which I replied 'You're helmet is on the wrong way round?'.  It was a tell tale giveaway!

Looking back to when I first started, I made every faux pas there was to make.  You could spot me a mile off as someone new to the pastime, probably you still can!  Anyhow, it got me thinking as to the clues to look for, apart from a helmet the wrong way around!

Tell Tale Clues

  • Reflectors still on the wheels.
  • Bike doesn't have a saddle bag.
  • Wearing trainers and using toe clips.
  • Wearing shorts without pads.
  • Wearing sports socks.
  • Pushing hard gears unnecessarily.
  • Wearing huge amounts of luminous gear.
  • Riding with a rucksack or back mounted hydration bag.
  • Being overdressed on a hot day (often in wet weather gear).
  • Riding a B Twin or Halfords Carrera bike.
  • And the list goes on.....

The point of the post is not to ridicule but to look for the signs and always ensure you've got an encouraging word as you go past.  Remembering how tough it was when first starting out on a bike, everyone rides past you as you are going slower, many people don't stop and say hello, often you want little bits of advice of have questions to ask and a friendly conversation can pave the way to ask - what might seem an obvious question.

As more and more riders hit the road, I'm sure you encounter many new cyclists on the weekend run.  Some may well have their helmets on the wrong way (it's not the first time I've seen it), be walking home as they can't fix a flat (as happened today) or be going up a climb really slowly (in the wrong gear).  

If you are a more experienced cyclist, look for the obvious clues, invest a few minutes of your time in a short conversation (if you have it) and see what a difference you can make to someone starting out.


  1. The key thing is offering a hand. I was heading back from cafe yesterday, feeling bad (post-flu) & three guys asked if I knew the way back to Cambridge. I led them back, getting a chance to chat with them, find out what was limiting for them (not knowing the local area, mostly) & what they were after.
    Gave me a good chat with some interesting guys I'd never have met, and allowed me to tell them about riding with our club & the other local rides that go out from Cambridge every week.
    They've all recently discovered cycling, both because they enjoy it, but also because it allows them, as recent immigrants working in kitchens, to find new ways of understanding the UK, improve their english & have some fun.
    Hopefully me taking an extra few minutes to ride with them rather than zipping off will encourage them as cyclists & as neighbours. They may get some things "wrong" as I see it (getting a go-pro before a GPS or even phone app, when you don't know the area), but I loved their enthusiasm, and would hate to see it dashed before I get a chance to shelter behind them on a windy day........

  2. There's another one to add to the list - wearing shorts out of season. If I see someone in shorts out on a road bike in February or March I'll always try to strike up a conversation with them and gently mention Easter Knee to them. We all had it when we were young and just starting out, so it's a shame to see others going through the same thing!
    Anyway keep up the good work