People cycle for different reasons. Some choose to cycle to work or university as an alternative to driving or walking. Some people use cycling as a chance to get out and about and explore their local area. Others might choose to drive out to nearby hills and countryside to try out mountain biking.
Whatever your reason, cycling is great fun and a great way to keep fit too!
The only equipment you really need are a bike (of course) and a helmet. For extra comfort you can buy cycling shorts, shoes and gloves, but these aren’t essential – though they might come in handy once you start taking on longer distances!
Once you’ve got these essentials, you might need to do some research to find out where the cycle lanes in your city are and what other popular cycle routes there are in your area. Start small at first – that 20 mile route up a hill might be best left for a few weeks!
Assess your fitness, remembering that you can cycle further than you can run. I’d suggest aiming for 3-5 miles at first and then adjust depending on how easy or challenging you find this.
Making sure your bike is the right size for you is important for preventing discomfort, pain and injury. If you’re buying a new bike, make sure to ask for advice from the staff there as they will be able to help you get your bike just right, from the size to the adjustments of the saddle and handlebars.
Sitting on your bike, wearing socks, with your heels on the pedals and using a wall to steady yourself, your leg should be straight when the pedals are at their lowest point. If you need to tip your body or pelvis to the side to reach the pedal, the saddle is too high.
As a general rule of thumb, the handlebars should be around 6-8cm below the saddle, but this can change depending on your flexibility and height.
It’s important to get the frame size right too – if it’s too big you’ll have to stretch to reach the handlebars. The ideal frame size changes depending on the type of bike, the height of the rider and also between men and women.
For more about your bike size, read our article on getting your bike size just right.
One of the great perks of cycling is that you can cover longer distances faster than walking or running. This means that lots of people choose to undertake long-distance cycling; whether spending all day on the bike exploring their local area, or undertaking challenges like John o’ Groats to Land’s End, or following the famous Tour de France!
Long distance cycling can put extra pressure on the body, so it’s important to eat well and drink plenty. It’s easy to end up very dehydrated after a day, or a number of days, on the bike, so follow our advice on how to keep hydrated during a long-distance cycle ride.
There are lots of great exercises you can do from home to help support your cycling regime. In particular, you should look at building endurance, improving flexibility and improving your core strength. This promotes whole body fitness which will not only improve your cycling performance, but also reduce the risk of injury.
Incorporate these recipes into your diet to help provide the energy, protein, healthy carbs and other nutrients you need to support your active lifestyle.