The staging of ‘Le Grand Depart’ of the Tour de France in the North of England in 2014 ushered in a resurgence of cycling as one of our nation’s favourite outdoor pastimes.
More than 14,000 miles of cycle path straddle the length and breadth of the UK and extra routes are being constructed all the time, as thousands of Britons rediscover cycling as a means of relaxing, keeping fit and exploring.
Statistics from Sustrans – the British movement for Sustainable Transport – tell us that 20% of cyclists on the UK’s network are new to cycling or starting to cycle again, while more than 85% of users surveyed said they feel fitter as a result of riding their bike.
Advantages Of Cycling
Many are discovering that cycling is a realistic alternative to an expensive gym membership, and there are many other advantages.
There are no subscription fees, opening or closing times – though you’ll need a light for cycling at night! Impact on joints and bones is vastly reduced when compared to running or jogging and it’s a practical alternative to driving.
Choosing The Right Bike
Though our nation’s cycle routes are built for cyclists of all abilities and experience and are frequented by people of all ages, there are risks associated with the pursuit, which is why it’s important to choose the right bike for you.
Like most things the cost can vary, but most should find they can pick up a reasonable piece of kit to get them started for less than £200.
And if you’re on a budget you can pick up a second hand bike for much less on websites like eBay and Gumtree, or your local classified newspaper.
Don’t forget! A helmet is another essential purchase for cyclists of all abilities, and you can pick up a modern, lightweight model offering excellent protection for under £20.
There are four main categories of bicycle to choose from – mountain, road, hybrid and electric.
Like its name suggests, mountain bikes are designed for those adventurous types who prefer to do most of their pedalling over rough terrain and on bumpy, hilly ground.
They offer stability and sturdiness, but are often quite heavy and may not be the correct option for a novice.
Road bikes are quite the opposite and are built for speed over flat, hard terrains. They feature thin aerodynamic wheels and frames and can achieve top speeds approaching 100mp/h.
Between the two are hybrids, which for many offer a happy medium amid the extremes of mountain and road.
Strong enough to stand the odd bump and dip, yet light enough to transport easily, hybrid bikes are a sensible option for a large percentage of first-time cyclists.
The Electric Bike
A fourth category of bike currently enjoying a renaissance is the electric bike, which offers riders a power boost up hills or whenever the going gets tough.
These bikes are a great option for explorers looking to cover large areas without breaking too much of a sweat, but they are expensive to purchase – and you won’t burn as many calories!
With picturesque routes, the opportunity to socialise and make new friends, and thousands of miles of routes to explore, cycling offers an excellent, low-cost alternative to a gym membership or personal training programmes.
On yer bike!