On 7th July the 105th Tour De France Cycling event will be kicking off in Noirmoutier-en-I’lle, before eventually coming to a halt on 29th July on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, taking in 3,329km with only two rest days. The shortest stage is a barely noticeable 35km to cover time trials, whilst the longest stage is set for 13th July where riders will cover 231km from Fougeres to Chartres.
Whilst the Tour de France may seem a little extreme, there is no doubt that cycling is an invigorating and liberating experience. Arguably one of the biggest benefits is that it is the sort of sporting activity you can do regardless of age, and it can equally be tailored to your own personal preferences and abilities. As such, it is the sort of activity that can easily be enjoyed by entire families at the weekend.
Not only is cycling an opportunity to have fun and get some exercise, but it is also a great mode of transportation. How many times have you been stuck in a traffic jam, and seen a cyclist whizz past you, and envied them their freedom? How many times have you wondered what damage all those exhaust fumes are causing our environment? Cycling is a great way to combat these issues.
Are you new to cycling?
If the last time you rode a bike was when you were 13, then don’t worry. There’s no better time to start picking up the old habits again (apparently, it’s a lot like riding a bike). You don’t need to spend fortunes on your first bike, especially if you are not planning on covering much ground in it. Perhaps tackling the school run, or the commute to work or the shops, at first.
If you are buying a cheap, or second-hand bike, do consider having it serviced before you use it, just to make sure that it is entirely road worthy. If you are buying new, take the time to speak to the experts in the bike shop to find out what they recommend. Explain where you’re starting from, what you plan to use the bike for, and where you want to be in terms of fitness and usage. They will be able to recommend the right frame for you and suit your budget.
If you’re out of the habit of riding, then it might be a good idea to start off in a quiet park, free from vehicles and too many distractions. This is a great way to build up your confidence and get to know your bike better. Take the time to practice riding single-handed so you can comfortably make hand signals when you’re on the road and get into the habit of looking over your shoulder to assist with your awareness and visibility on the roads.
Don’t forget to double-check the Highway Code to ensure that you are fully aware of all your rights, responsibilities and obligations when it comes to staying safe on the roads.
As with many things, people often get very enthusiastic about cycling, buy all the gear, and then give up two weeks later. If you want to avoid this happening to you, then it’s essential to stay motivated.
The best thing you can do is make sure that cycling becomes a regular habit. The easiest way to do this is to make cycling your standard mode of transport for at least one journey per day. Perhaps you could cycle to the tram stop instead of walking or driving? Can you make it all the way to work? Could you cycle to the pub quiz on a Thursday night?
You could even check out some of the great cycling meet-ups that take place up and down the country via Let’s Ride.
Whatever you do, start slowly, take your time and enjoy yourself!