I used to spend hours on my bike as a child. I started with an old tricycle that had been handed down through the family and would pedal furiously round and round the house.
When I graduated to two wheels I used them to run errands for my grandad, and in the school holidays I cycled to friends’ houses in local villages and into the local town. I had some painful accidents, went over the handlebars, but I don’t remember ever feeling any fear as I hurtled down hills.
Like many of us I gave it up without even noticing when I went away to college in a city. For a country girl the traffic was much too heavy to even contemplate cycling. Even living just outside the country town of Frome I’m not keen on navigating the narrow, windy lanes that lead into town.
My bike is a sedate sit up and beg model, the kind that often has a basket on the front for a spot of ladylike shopping. I much prefer the upright riding position that doesn’t put as much weight on my wrists and allows for plenty of sightseeing en route.
The good things about being on your bike:
🚲 You keep fit in a much lower impact way than going to the gym or running. The number of calories you burn depends on your weight and speed, but the general consensus seems to be about 500 an hour.
🚲 Therefore cycling is the perfect excuse to eat cake!
🚲 Once you’ve got the bike and helmet it’s free.
🚲 It’s a green way to travel.
🚲 You see and experience much more than you do in a car (including the weather and the inclines!) Get a closer look at animals, nature,and birds, and speak to people as you pass.
🚲 It’s good fun.
My goal now is to make cycling a mode of transport again rather than a leisure activity.
How to get back on your bike:
1. The National Cycle Network is within a mile of half of all UK homes and consists of 14,000 miles all over the UK, according to Sustrans, the charity behind its creation.
Some of the network is traffic-free, often on old railway lines, so it’s level, safe and an easy way to get back into regular cycling.
2. Electric bikes (like the one below) have an electric motor that you can use to make your ride easier, or help you out on hills or against a headwind. You need to recharge the battery between rides, and the distance you can go varies from model to model.
If you’re worried that you’ll end up sweaty after commuting to work or the shops, an ebike could be the answer! And Philippa Perry, wife of Grayson and enthusiastic ebiker, offers many other reasons for using an electric bike in her Guardian review of the latest ebike models.
3. Try out some different bikes from a local hire shop before committing to a purchase, to find out which model you prefer. There are road bikes with dropped handlebars, mountain bikes, tricycles, recumbents, hybrids…
4. Get some expert advice on the right size of bike for you, and have the position of the seat and handlebars adjusted for your arm and leg length. It makes all the difference to feeling safe and in control, and to your enjoyment of being on your bike.
5. At the beginning go out with an experienced rider who can help you learn about changing gear, using the brakes and steering. Stick to traffic-free routes until you’re confident you can handle the bike, and then progress to learning how to cycle in traffic and giving the correct hand signals.
This post was kindly sponsored by Hargroves Cycles, instore and online cycling retailer in the South of England.