Even if you are cycling along the flat having your tyres at the correct pressure will help. Written on the side of your tyres will be the ideal pressure to pump the tyres to. To check if your pressure is correct you can use the guage on a pump or, as a guide, use your thumb and index finger to squeeze the side of the tyre, it should be firm and without indenting very much at all. This will be a perfect pressure for general cycling to the shops, round town, along a cycle path, etc. If you are heading out on a long cycle on tarmac roads pump the tyre so that they feel firm. If you are going to do some mountain biking it may be better to have the tyres a little softer to help grip on the off road surface.
It’s important to get your saddle the correct height for you, this will ensure you are using the whole of your thigh muscle making cycling much easier. As a rough guide, adjust your saddle to hip height then pull your brakes on and sit on your bike with your heel on the pedal at the bottom. In this position your knee should be slightly bent, locked straight means your saddle is too high, a large bend in your knee means your saddle is too low.
Most bikes have gears so put them into action. If you know your route you will know where the hills are, plan and look ahead. To keep the flow of cycling going you’ll need to begin changing down gear as you start the incline. Try to match the gears to your legs, changing down as it becomes more difficult. As you change gear ease off on your pedals slightly to stop crunching and changing harshly, your bike will thank you.
The gears on the left side of your handle bars work the front cogs, the right works the rear cogs. I like to use numbers to refer to gears as a lot of people have numbered gear shifters on their handle bars but there are different methods. The front small cog is number one on shifter, this is the easiest, middle cog is number two and largest number three. Try to use these in sequence with the rear gears, i.e. number one on the front set of cogs (left hand shifter on your handle bars) works best with numbers 1 to 3 on the rear cogs (right hand gear shifter on your handle bars), number two on the front works best with 3 to 6 on the rear and number 3 works best with 6 to 8/9 on the rear.
By following this sequence your gears will work better for you when riding and won’t wear out as quickly as the chain will be kept in a straight line.
When cycling uphill try to stay sitting down, using an easy gear and slowly winding your way up the hill. If it is a short very steep section you can stand up but by standing you will tire quickly. When going down hill, if you are a little nervous or are off road it’s best to stand up, with your weight back and your pedals level to provide a stable platform.
All information is a guide only and will not replace experience and learned skills. In all cases if you are not sure you can get expert advice from any local coach or skills company, such as Skinny Tyres, Progression Bikes, etc.