On yer bike! A guide to getting started cycling
It’s National Bike Week (8-16 June)! There’s no better time to jump on your bike and enjoy Scotland’s great outdoors. Whether you haven’t cycled since you were a kid, or your once beloved bike has lain forgotten in the garage for longer than you care to admit, don't hesitate. Dust off that saddle, polish up your bell and don your helmet, it’s time for a two wheeled adventure!
The essentials: You’ll need…
If you’re thinking of buying a bike for the first time, it’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for before you go along to a store. The choice can be overwhelming, and while the sales assistants usually offer some excellent advice, it’s good to have a starting point.
Do you want a bike with a basket for long, leisurely Sunday jaunts? Or do you fancy an all action, all terrain, super geared-up mountain bike? The options are vast. It’s also a good idea to check if your employer takes part in a bike to work scheme, as this can help you spread the cost of your new bike over a number of months.
If you’re not quite ready to fork out for a new set of wheels just yet, don’t forget you can hire bikes from suppliers at or nearby many of our main cycling destinations; including Glentress, Moray Monster Trails, Forest of Ae and Mabie to name just a few.
Helmet, lock and other safety equipment
While cycling without a helmet isn’t against the law, the number of lives saved by this essential piece of safety wear should be motivation enough to strap one on.
Chances are you won’t be on your bike the whole time, and you might want to stop somewhere for a bite to eat. Keep your bike safe by investing in a good lock, so you can enjoy a stress-free lunch. Bike insurance is a good idea too.
If you plan on cycling at night you should attach some lights to your bike, and reflective clothing is essential if you’re going to be anywhere near a road.
Of course, a bell to politely warn other people of your approach is a must, while a puncture repair kit can patch up any unfortunate tyre damage, and let you continue on your merry way.
Don’t forget to dress for the occasion. The sun may be gleefully shining when you leave the house, but that doesn’t mean two hours later it’s not going to be pouring down with rain. A waterproof jacket will serve you well.
The perfect route
Now, perhaps we are being a little bit biased… but we reckon there are few places more enchanting to cycle than the forest on a beautiful summer’s day. A number of forests across Scotland are ideal for cycling newbies, thanks to miles of flat terrain and some fabulous picnic places that offer a well deserved resting spot.
Visit the glittering banks of Loch Ard, close to Aberfoyle, for a family-friendly cycling day out, complete with wildlife and hidden sculptures to discover.
Or for a true slice of Scottish scenery, venture into Argyll Forest Park. With its remote glens and captivating Highland views, you won’t even notice how tired your legs are.
Cycle by the seaside in Culbin, just east of Inverness, where first-timers can find their balance on mostly flat trails.
Get involved in National Bike Week
The aim of National Bike Week is to promote cycling for all, and to highlight the benefits of making two wheels part of your everyday routine. There are loads of planned bike rides happening across the country, including our own Easy Riders event at Forest of Ae.
Getting on your bike is more than just a brilliant way to get fit and healthy. It’s lots of fun too. Happy cycling!