With another Tour de France just over – and a historic second victory for British cyclist Chris Froome in the bag – cycling’s been the sport on everyone’s lips. If you’re thinking of taking it up, there are loads of reasons to do so: lower fuel costs, less reliance on your car and on public transport, improved health, sheer enjoyment and the knowledge that you’re doing your bit for the environment! The great news is that many towns and cities are now becoming more cyclist-friendly (see London, UK, as an example, where huge numbers of commuters relied on the city’s self-service bike sharing scheme during recent tube strikes). As the popularity of cycling increases, we look at some of the ways in which cycling can benefit you and the world around you – and what to do if you want to get started.
Why Should I Join the Cycling Trend?
As global levels of awareness regarding climate change rise, more and more of us are looking for a way to do our bit – and cycling is the perfect answer. It doesn’t require a huge initial outlay (see further down the article for more tips in that area) and can save you money on fuel for your car – ideal for a time when fuel prices are rising despite the falling cost of oil. It’s also really, really good for you: as well as being a low-impact exercise that doesn’t strain your joints, it can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and depression (you’ll even enjoy improved focus and better performance at work, according to this 18-year study regarding the effects of transport on psychological health). What’s more, cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine. Why not think about which car rides you could replace with bike rides on a daily basis? See the tips below for getting started as a beginner cyclist.
Choosing the Right Bike
Actually, this doesn’t mean rushing out to buy the most expensive one you can afford (although this can be tempting, as there’s some pretty cool stuff out there these days – check out this Alinta Energy report on one of the newest innovations!) What really matters is that the frame is right for you – and that includes not only the height, but the handlebar size too, which should always be wide enough to allow your chest to open up fully. A specialist bike shop will be able to advise you on the right size and style of bike for your needs (for most people, a decent quality rigid mountain bike works great for starters and can tackle all types of terrain). If you already have a bike, even better! However, if it’s not been used for a while, it’s always wise to get it checked out by a bike shop and make sure it’s still roadworthy.
Staying Safe on the Road
If you’re just getting used to cycling again, it’s best to find a low-traffic area to practice in until you’re feeling confident. In fact, if you’re really rusty, start off in traffic-free area such as your local park, and ride as if you’re on the road. Practice one-handed riding, so the other hand is free to make signals. Plan your route in advance so you’re not dithering and holding people up, and be aware of good cycling etiquette. Remember: no one likes a car that’s swerving, hesitating and failing to signal, and it’s no different for cyclists.
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