It’s National Bike Week, and what better time to take up cycling? It’s a great way to stay fit and easy way to boost your mood and keep your weight under control. Here are some tips to help get you started.
1. Are you in good health?
Cycling is something most people can do and is a safe and healthy way to exercise but if you have any concerns or an existing medial problem, see your GP before you start.
2. Get the right bike
For short journeys most good working bikes are fine, but if you’re buying a second-hand bike or using one that hasn’t been ridden for a while, consider having it serviced at a specialist bike shop to ensure its roadworthy.
Mountain bikes are durable and good for travelling off road, but they are heavier than road bikes. A road bike has a lighter frame and smooth, narrow tyres. If you’re doing short journeys and not venturing off-road, then this could be a good option.
3. Invest in some tools
As well as the right bike, there are some items of kit you’ll need to ensure you’re riding safely:
- Helmet – this should sit firmly on your head, and you should feel the straps pulling under your chin when opening your mouth.
- Lights – both front and back for night riding.
- Reflectors – red at the rear, amber for the pedals.
- Basic tool kit – puncture repair kit, tyre levers, spare inner tube, allen key set or multi-tool, and a pump.
If you haven’t cycled much before or are out of the habit, it’s a good idea to practise in a traffic-free area to start with, such as your local park. Make sure you practise riding single-handed so that you can make hand signals and try out looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.
5. Stretch out
If you’re planning a long cycle ride, it’s a good idea to warm up your muscles with some simple stretches at home before you set off to avoid injuring yourself. Some short lunges and one-legged squats are a good way to warm up your legs and hips for the ride ahead.
6. Join a bike ride
Worried about going it alone? Why not sign up for a community bike ride, where you can join others and stay motivated? Find a bike ride near you using Bike Hub’s events search.
For more information on cycling for your health, check out the Cycling for Beginners page on the NHS website.