Tips for Beginners

The Bike

  • It needs to fit you, to be safe and easy to ride.
  • Adjust your saddle height so that with the ball of your foot on the pedal and your leg fully extended there is a slight bend behind the knee. Saddle too high=sore bottom. Saddle too low and you’re not getting the benefit of full power from your legs.
  • Your saddle should be horizontal and you can check this with a spirit level. Your reach to the handlebars needs to be comfortable and you can move the saddle forward or back to suit your shape. As a rule of thumb you can adjust it so that with your elbow on the front of the saddle your clenched fist just reaches the handlebars.
  • To start with have your handlebar height an inch or two lower than the saddle.
  • Ask one of us to have a look at your position on the bike and advise you. We’re all different shapes!
  • Wheels are very important components of your bike. The spokes should be tight and the rims should run true between the brake blocks. Spin them to check.
  • Tyres should be in good condition without cuts or faults in the tread or the walls. Keep them pumped up hard to the pressure advised on the tyre wall. Soft tyres make the bike much harder to push and to steer. Ride it with hard and then with soft tyres to convince yourself of the difference.
  • Brake blocks or disc pads must not be worn down; replace them if they are. Check that they are correctly aligned with the rims and that they release fully from the rims when they are not applied. Spin the wheel to check. Finally go out onto a safe road and check that you can maintain control when stopping quickly. Try it down a hill.
  • Pedals and chain need to be in good condition and you can check these by turning the pedals with the back wheel supported off the ground.
  • Most bikes have variable gears and you should also check that these work smoothly, first by testing with the bike supported and then out on the road. A bit of oil or lubricant spray on the cables, chain and bearings goes a long way to aiding your efficiency on the bike.
  • If in doubt get your bike checked at your local bike shop or ask one of us to look it over.
  • Give it a clean after each ride.
  • You’ll need a little bag behind the saddle so you can carry a set of tyre levers with a spare inner tube and a puncture outfit and anything else you think you might need in an emergency.
  • Take a pump and make sure that the connector is matched to the valves on your tyres.
  • Finally lift your bike a few inches off the ground and give it a little bounce to check for rattles or loose fittings and fix them.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.


  • You need a pair of shorts or tights (best fitted with a bum-protecting pad) according to the weather, an undervest and a loose fitting jersey preferably with rear pockets to take your wallet, ID, keys, hanky and a fruit bar. Carry enough money for a cup of tea and bun and, in case of emergencies your train fare home.
  • You can then add extra layers according to the time of year and weather forecast – bike riders are obsessed with weather forecasts.
  • A light pair of gloves (we call them track mitts) protect your hands from damage if you take a tumble.
  • Cycling shoes are a real benefit and come in various disguises according to what sort of pedals you have on your bike. Most of us attach ourselves to the pedals with clips and straps or cleats like ski bindings. It sounds a bit dodgy to the newcomer but you get used to it and you’ll end up feeling safer.
  • It makes sense to protect your head from accidental damage so a well fitting crash hat of approved design is a good investment and need not cost the earth.
  • If you find you like riding a bike and decide to join the club then, if you wish, we can order whatever club kit you want to purchase at reasonable prices.
  • Take a light waterproof jacket with you rolled up in your back pocket or attached to the bike.

Riding in a group

  • This is one of the joys of riding with a club but it takes a bit of getting used to.
  • Before we start off we agree on the destination and route.
  • On quiet roads the normal formation is in pairs but we “single-up” if cars are waiting to pass or on busy roads. By riding behind someone else you save about 15% of your energy by avoiding some wind resistance and riding in pairs lets you chat to your neighbour.
  • We never ride more than two abreast.
  • The pace is set by the pair at the front but it’s difficult for them to know if they’re going too fast or too slow for those behind. The main thing is for the leaders to ride at the same speed as each other so as not to force the pace and to keep an ear out for information from behind. They also clearly indicate changes of direction to the followers and point out road hazards like potholes or oncoming traffic or horses by gestures and verbal warnings.
  • The pair behind them follows as closely as is comfortable for them and relay signals and warnings to those further back in the group.
  • The riders in the rear of the group warn those in front of cars waiting to pass and also check if anyone is having trouble keeping up or is delayed by mechanical troubles like punctures.
  • If someone punctures everyone stops until it’s mended.
  • It’s a bit like a football team, you need to communicate.

Distance & Routes

By the time you contact Clarencourt you’ll probably have ridden around locally by yourself or with friends. Going a little further each time you’ll get to know the roads or tracks in your locality as well as the terrain as you build up your strength and riding skills. Resist the temptation to go too far at first, remember you have to ride back home as well and you want to be still enjoying it at the end. Most of our rides are circular on quiet back roads with a stop half way, usually in a café for a tea and a bun. In your early rides with us please let us know if you’ve had enough and one of us will turn back with you. You use quite a lot of energy riding a bike so carry a fruit bar with you and a bottle of drink if you’re going to be riding for more than an hour.


Don’t worry about it. We’ll ride at a speed that’s comfortable to you and we can always split the group to accommodate to differences. Unless you give it a go you won’t know. We never leave anyone behind alone. Having said that riding a bike fast is fun but please always be mindful of your own safety and those of others. Always reduce speed when approaching others, particularly pedestrians, dog walkers or horse riders, from behind and give a clearly audible warning of your presence. Bikes come up from behind suddenly and silently and can easily spook the unwary – humans and animals.

Mountain bikes

Group riding on mountain bikes is more relaxed because generally you don’t have traffic to consider although the terrain is often much more demanding. Many of the off-road tracks are too narrow to pair-up on and we leave bigger gaps between each other. We still need to warn each other of hazards by pointing and shouting, especially on riverside or canal paths. Also it is more important to check regularly that we’re all together especially at parting of the ways – it’s easy to get separated and lost in the woods. One hazard particular to traffic-free riding is the presence of low posts put on the track to deter motorized vehicles – point them out to those following and shout “Post!”


We recommend that you join one of the national cycling organizations, either the Cyclists Touring Club or the British Cycling Federation and take out the appropriate insurance that most suits you. If your bike is expensive than it’s a good idea to insure it too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *