Get off the couch and start cycling
Essential cycling training information
Okay, it's true. The couch is a comfortable place to be sometimes. But, I assure you, it’s even more agreeable when you’re basking in the warm afterglow of a bicycle ride. Plus you’d be happy in the knowledge that you will have undoubtedly done yourself some good. So, if you were inspired by the Tour de France but can’t bring yourself to throw your leg over the saddle, or you have an old bike gathering dust in the shed, here’s why it’s time to get out there and ride!
Matt is a former British Road Race champion who represented GB in the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games. He is now a regular commentator for EuroSport and a presenter on Global Cycling Network
Cycling is good for you
The health benefits of cycling are manifold. It’s great for burning excess calories so therefore an effective way of losing weight or for fending off weight gain. It’s a non-weight bearing activity, which basically means it’s good for people with joint problems; the bike supports the majority of your body weight, unlike running for example. Cycling is also a fantastic way to work on improving your cardiovascular system specifically your heart and lungs. Regular cycling can also reduce the risk of strokes, diabetes and heart disease. It’s also a great stress buster and motivator and it can even alleviate mild depression when carried out regularly as part of a routine.
Cycling is easy
You don’t need an expensive bike when starting out. Any bike will do, as long as it works and it’s safe to ride. Go on, pop into the garage or shed and give the old bike that you haven’t ridden for years some TLC. Give it a wipe, pump some air into the tyres, squirt some oil on the chain and away you go. If you are in any doubt about your steed’s road worthiness, it’s worth taking it to your local bike shop for a once over service.
There are now more bikes shops than ever and the choice of machine is vast; Road, MTB, Hybrid, Commuter, Fixed, to name but a few. Prices are also remarkably competitive meaning you can pick up a perfectly serviceable bike for a reasonable amount. There is plenty of cycling advice available online (starting here at realbuzz.com of course!) but my advice when buying a bike is speak face to face with the experts at a local independent shop. They’ll be able to give advice and tips relating to correct frame size, the type of bike you’ll need depending on the cycling you’ll be doing and selecting the right bike for your budget.
Starting out with cycling
If you’ve not ridden for a while just start out steadily and then build up gradually. Perhaps cycle instead of using the car for that pint of milk you need or try riding to work once or twice a week. You’ll save money, get to work less stressed, do your thing for the planet plus you’ll be getting fitter with each pedal stroke. Many employers offer the ‘Cycle To Work Scheme’, which is yet another good reason to consider that commute. If you aren’t feeling overly confident about using the roads it’s worth finding out where your nearest cycle path is.
How about cycling to school? This is a fantastic and enjoyable way to get children more active. Obviously serious consideration needs to be given to your route to school from a safety perspective, but in many towns and cities there are alternative routes to main roads. Accompanying younger children on the school run is also an opportunity for parents to ride too, making it a family affair!
It’s time to ride
As well as the health, economic and environmental benefits, cycling will also open you up to a completely new, vibrant and fresh world as well as offering a new challenge in life. What could be more invigorating and stimulating than riding along your local country lanes, alone or with family or friends, taking in the scenery and places that previously went by in a just a blur? You can stop when you wish to reflect, ride at the pace you want, choose to ride on the flat or tackle the local steep hill. It’s all entirely up to you.
It doesn’t matter how far you ride or how fast you go. It might be that you’re happy just occasionally riding to the shops or to work or perhaps you may harbour more ambitious objectives; perhaps a 50 mile ride, your first sportive or even racing! The road ahead is as open as your imagination and rolling hills and mountains at home or abroad beckon.
The roads of the Tour de France, Tour of Britain and beyond are there to be ridden by you if you choose. What other sport/activity offers you the opportunity to ride in exactly the same the same environment, the wheel tracks in fact, as the world best? Cycling gives you an innate sense of freedom and elevates your mood. It’s fun, challenging and dynamic and it will get you fitter and healthier whilst you gain a new set of skills and even friends. And, here at realbuzz.com we’ll help you along the way with tips and advice on whatever you want to achieve in cycling. So, what are you waiting for!?