Bike rides are what childhood memories are made of- there’s nothing better than hopping on your bike when you’re a kid and feeling the wind through your hair. And cycling as an adult can be just as fun- if you’re looking for a way to get fit and save the planet all while having fun buying yourself a bicycle is a great way to go about it.
Here are a few things to consider before starting up your new hobby.
What you’ll need
If you’ve not ridden a bike since childhood and are planning on getting into it again, there are a few things you’ll need to purchase. While these upfront costs can be quite a bit, it’s well worth the investment as you won’t need to buy them again.
Unlike a gym which you’re paying for every month, once you have your setup it’s completely free to exercise. First of all is your bike, you’ll want something that’s the right height and feels comfortable to sit on. Go to a bike shop and test out lots of models, go with something that feels right for you.
One thing a lot of new cyclists can suffer with is soreness due to their saddle, while in time you’ll find that this gets less painful in other cases you might need a different seat. A wider seat will often be more comfortable and you can purchase these separately online which will fit onto any bike.
Other things you’ll need are a helmet (very important!) and bike locks. Whether you need to pop into a cafe for a drink or the loo during your bike ride, or if you’re using your bike to get around to run errands unfortunately you can’t risk leaving it unattended. Lots of places have racks to lock up bikes these days, or you could chain it to something like a fence.
Finally, the right clothing and footwear will keep you comfortable and prevent accidents, things like loose coat belts can jam the wheels or shoes with insufficient grip can slip off the pedals. Regular sportswear will be fine, you can buy cycling shoes but most trainers will do the job as long as they have some grip on them.
Planning your routes
It’s true what they say, you never forget how to ride a bike. However, if you’ve not been on one in years, don’t expect to be able to hop right on and be as confident as you were in childhood! You might be a little wobbly and unstable at first, and your fitness levels might not be as good as you think.
There are certain muscles needed for cycling and these might be underdeveloped. For this reason, it’s worth starting out small. Plan routes that are relatively flat and don’t have too many people around so you can work your way up.
There are cycling apps you can get on your phone like Komoot which allow you to program a route, from there it will tell you how easy or difficult it will be, what the inclines are like and how long it will take you. It will let you know what kind of fitness levels will be needed to do the route.
This can be really helpful and make sure you know what to expect when you’re getting out there on your bike. Wait until you’re confident before riding on the roads, and when you do you must legally have lights on your bike if you’re going out in the evening or at night. Until then, enjoy cycling around parks, nature reserves and other quieter areas.
Benefits you’ll discover
There are so many great benefits to biking. If you’re ditching your car and doing shorter journeys on your bike instead you’ll save yourself money, and you’ll also have peace of mind knowing you’re doing your bit for the environment.
It could be cycling to work or school, popping out to run errands or going out to visit friends. On top of this, you have the incredible health benefits that cycling can bring. Stronger legs and a toned physique and greatly improved endurance and cardiovascular fitness can both be enjoyed.
To a lesser (but still significant) extent, cycling can tone the arms, back and core as well as the lower body. When you’re outdoors you’ll be getting some fresh air as well as soaking up some vitamin D. You’ll feel great, your clothes will fit you better and you’ll save cash too. It really is win-win all round!