'On yer bike!'
The world of cycling is more popular today than it has ever been before. Governments are getting wise to the benefits of having more bikes on the road, so the implementation of new cycle lanes, 'cycle friendly' cities and cycle to work schemes are making it easier than ever to get on the saddle.
Whether you have never cycled before or you’re a seasoned veteran whose bike in the shed acts more like an old clotheshorse, check out this blog to find out why now is the best time to get out on the road!
Upon my return to the UK, having lived in Australia for the past three years, one of my friends told me that he and a group of mates were cycling the Alps in the upcoming summer. Immediately the words, "Can I come?!" jumped out of my mouth. I've been a bike "rider" all my life however, I have never been a "cyclist", in fact I had never sat on a road bike. So I immediately immersed myself into the world of cycling. I bought magazines, watched videos and spoke to loads of experienced riders and this blog highlights some of what I have learnt.
Why get 'on yer bike?'
There are loads of great reasons to get into road cycling. Here are a few that I've realised since my immersion into the cycling culture.
The health benefits both physically and psychologically are both obvious ones. Whether you want to lose weight or just get the endorphins flowing, getting on your bike is a great way to both look and feel good.
Cycling is a great way to travel and explore - for example, cycling from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas can knock two items off of your bucket list. Even riding some routes near your home will get you discovering villages and scenery you may have never seen before. Being out in nature while soaking in the beautiful countryside and breathing fresh air really helps break up the sedentary lifestyle the majority of us tend to live in.
It is also an enjoyable way to fund-raise for your chosen charity. Cycling event challenges are run around the world and can be a great way to push yourself to the limit while raising money for a good cause. Single day events can tackle some tough hills in the UK and multi-day overseas trips can step it up a notch by climbing mountains. A very popular charity challenge is cycling London to Paris during the Tour de France.
Being a sports fan, cycling is one of the only sports that gives you the opportunity to compete in the same place as your favourite sports heroes. For example, just because you like tennis doesn’t mean you’ll have the chance to play in Wimbledon, if you like football you most likely won't be scoring goals at Old Trafford, but if you like cycling you can climb Alpe d'huez (with loads of hill training beforehand) to follow in the pedal strokes of your favourite Tour de France heroes.
Training on the bike
It has never been easier to map your progress in fitness than right now. Technology has made it incredibly simple to find and exceed both your physical and mental limits.
Training tools such as heart rate monitors and cycle computers record how hard you’re pushing yourself. Whether it is mapping your route or charting your elevation, 'there's an App for that'. These can be a great way of competing with friends as you can chart your progress to show how many more hills you tackled last week than your best mate.
Having a goal such as a long distance one day event or a six day Alps trip gives you something to train for. Having my trip on the horizon has helped to give me a focus and a reason to get in the saddle, rain or shine. Signing up for an event like this six months in advance will help ensure that in the lead up to it you will be staying fit and have something to look forward to.
Getting the gear
Purchasing cycling gear can be as pricey or as cheap as you like. There are a wide range of suppliers from online stores to the tiny bike shop down the road. Obviously with higher quality comes higher price, but as a beginner you can purchase some pretty decent kit for a price that won't break the bank. And remember, once you make the initial investment and buy all the necessary equipment, riding your bike is free! Heading out from your doorstep won't cost you a penny.
Bikes these days can be quite complex as they are made to fit specific body shapes and sizes. It is best to find someone who knows what they're doing in order to get the right bike fit for you (watch out for our 'How to' video coming soon, which will talk you through how to do this).
Every year brands are coming out with more competitive models by shedding weight and (sometimes) prices off the previous year's bikes to keep up with the competition.
Here in Britain we can have sun, hale and gale force winds all on one ride, so it is important to always be prepared. Cycling clothes can make even the dark and wet winter months cyclable. Breathable wet weather gear and aerodynamic outfits can get you moving all year round. As most bike shops will have sales at certain times of year, it helps to not rush and buy everything all at once (like I did)!
The cycling community is a vast and passionate one. There are clubs based all around the country and some great group rides wherever you are. Finding keen cyclists to ride with has never been easier with social media and cycling groups. Now that spring has sprung more and more people are getting on the saddle.
Signing up to events is a great way to learn new skills from cyclists with a lot more experience. People passionate about riding are always open to helping beginners. Here's a few we recommend if you and your team are just starting out:
London to Paris | London to Amsterdam | Nice to Carcassonne
Or if you're looking for more of a challenge:
Venice to Rome | The Classic Cols | The Pyrenees Coast to Coast
So, 'on yer bike' then!
Now that you know just a few of the great reasons why you should be out cycling it’s time to get on the saddle! Whether you want a single day event near your hometown or a multiday overseas adventure, Discover Adventure can help facilitate the perfect challenge for you and your charity or corporation.