If you are unused to toe clips/straps or clipless pedals, practise getting your feet into the pedals. Do this in a quiet area away from traffic. This will help to avoid any potentially dangerous wobbles when starting off in traffic or at the start of a road race.
Again if you have not used toe clips/straps or clipless pedals, practise taking your feet out of the pedals in a quiet area traffic free. It is instinctive to lift the foot off the pedal and when you are not used to the twisting action required for clipless pedals, it can cause a momentary panic and you may topple over. It is best to do this in a traffic free environment rather than at a set of traffic lights.
When stopping, apply the back brake slightly before the front and try to apply an even an equal pressure to both brakes.
A lot of the riding you will do will be in the company of others so it is important to learn how to do this. Sitting behind the rider in front (slipstreaming) will save you energy. With practise you will be able to stay 6-8 inches (or closer) behind. Make sure that your front wheel does not overlap the back wheel of the rider ahead of you. Avoid sharp braking or sudden movements such as getting out of the saddle as this has the effect of throwing the bike backwards which can be dangerous to the rider behind. Look out for obstacles or pot holes in the road and point these out to the riders behind.
Cornering is something you should practise, especially if you intend to race.
Try to follow an experienced rider and watch the line they take. Fix your line, go in at the right speed and accelerate out of the corner. Brake before the corner - not on it. Once you have your line, try to look at where you want to go rather than at the nearside kerb, because in missing the latter, you will probably find that your bike is not going where you want it to go. This may then entail a sudden change in direction with the consequent danger of a crash. Transfer your weight to the outside pedal, which in lowering your centre of gravity will give maximum tyre adhesion. This is particularly important when descending where you must also be alert to the need to take the correct line for the next corner whilst already coping with one.
When cornering, try and avoid man-hole covers, drains, studs, road markings, black tar strips, leaves etc. especially in the wet as these all become very slippery. Also watch for the tell tale signs of oil spillage and black ice.
There are two climbing styles. One is sitting in the saddle with your hands on the top of the handlebars and sitting well back on the saddle. This is suited to long shallower climbs. Try to keep an even pedalling rhythm in the correct gear. Too big a gear will cause back ache and knee problems, too small will cause breathlessness.
The other method is out of the saddle with the hands on the brake hoods. This is known as ‘honking’. This is more suited to the shorter, steeper hills and may be tackled on a higher gear.
Keeping your tyres pumped up to the correct pressure will reduce rolling resistance and help to avoid ‘impact’ punctures (characterised by two slits either side of the inner tube), although letting a little air out the tyre will help adhesion on wet roads.
Keep your chain well lubricated as this will stop rusting, reduce wear, and reduce friction.