Written by Rachael Nicholls
1. Find some friends or family to ride with!
The great thing about riding a bike is that you don't have to wait for an organised activity or game. You can just get on your bike and ride with friends or family, in your local area and beyond. Alternatively, you can even ride by yourself when you need to get away from school work or that annoying little sister!
2. Get a good quality bike
Any safe bike is a good bike, but you will enjoy it more if you have one that is properly fitted to you! Don't go buying a bike because it is cheap - by spending a few extra dollars, you will not only end up with a bike that will last longer, but is also more enjoyable and easier to ride. A lighter bike also makes it easier to load into cars and carry up stairs of train stations, as well as riding up that steep hill too! You will find that your kids will also learn how to ride easier and more safely on a well fitted bike.
3. Find a good bike shop
There are some great bike shops around which are very supportive and helpful in preparing you on your riding journey. A good bike shop will help you find your ideal bike, by understanding what best suits your needs; they will also fit your bike in a way that is most safe and practical for you when spending time on two wheels!
4. Try new things
Bike riding isn't all about lycra or riding on the road. Try mountain biking on a fire trail or even go for an overnight bike ride when you are confident enough.
Try the local BMX track or check out the local velodrome; you could even try your hand at a crit race with the local cycling club. You will find that you will be very welcome and are they very encouraging. If that seems a bit out of reach for you, then find a safe track and ride with your friends.
5. Explore new places
There are heaps of off road cycleways or shared paths around New South Wales. Check out Mountain Bike Trails in NSW or RailTrails Australia with some great places to explore. I did the Fernleigh Track a couple of years ago with my family and had an awesome day! The Cooks River Cycleway that is used as the main route in Gear Up Girl offers a nice ride as well, especially when there is an icecream at the end of the ride. Mum also likes the chocolate shop that's along the track.
6. Join a local BUG (Bicycle User Group) or riding group
You'll be amazed at the encouragement you get and the amount of riding buddies you can find. They quite often also have many organised rides for all different riding abilities. For more information about a BUG or riding group in your area, please visit the Bicycle NSW website.
7. Make small achievable, fun challenges.
My favourite is beating Dad up the hill to win a slurpee. I even beat him in a crit race once and earn't 2 slurpee's!
8. Stop at the coffee shop with your friends
You have to make sure you continue to stay hydrated when out riding, especially on a hot day and when going on a long ride. This is a good chance to stop and have some quality time with your friends. If they have mango smoothies that's even better!
9. Instead of catching the bus to the shops, ride to the shops
Find an off road and back street route and ride your bike (Google Maps is a good way to start planning your trips, just use the cycling option). If you're going to a big event such as Australia Day at Parramatta Park, do what my family did and park your car in a back street and ride your bike the rest of the way.
You will find that many big events are located in parks that have cyclepaths leading into them and it's a great way to beat the traffic congestion. Some bigger events even have free bike valet parking. It's a good idea though to test the route before the big day.
10. Learn basic maintenance
It's easier than you think and will save you a long walk home. There are a range of basic maintenance courses being held by Bicycle NSW in the coming months, with more information found here.
You could also look on Youtube, where many videos which explain simple maintenance can be found... even my nine year old sister can change a tyre!