Body Buzz… On Your Bike
by Sasha Kanal
Cycling has undergone something of a renaissance here in the UK, in part due to the 2012 Olympics and Britain’s sterling performance in the cycling arena. Sasha Kanal inspires us all to get on our bikes.
Go down any country lane in the UK and particularly our sunny corner of Sussex and you’ll most likely see men and women in all the right gear navigating the roads with intent. But you don’t have to dress like a pro or possess an expensive bike to enjoy the simple act of cycling. Old and young, beginners to seasoned cyclists, sometimes all it takes is for you to just get out and go!
BENEFITS OF BIKING
Good for your body and the planet, cycling is well known for its extensive health benefits. Brisk cycling burns around 500 calories per hour and is a low impact activity so it’s kinder to the joints. From longer rides to short spins around the block, getting to work or using a spinning bike in the comfort of your own home, you’ll always get something out of it. To ramp things up a bit, try mountain biking. Cycling up and down hills and out of the saddle is an excellent all-body activity, as you’re constantly shifting your weight, working your arms, abs and core stability. Not to mention improving your lung health in the process.
Apart from the prerequisite road-worthy bike, then you will need the following for basic starters: A protective helmet. Designed to offer protection at low-speed crashes that don’t involve motor vehicles, wearing a helmet (although not a legal requirement) is reassuring for many. In the first instance, whether riding on a road or a bike path, you should always acquaint yourself with basic safety rules for cycling.
Front and rear lights on the bike are absolutely essential if you’re going to ride after dark. They not only make you visible in the gloom, they also illuminate the roads and bike paths. There are so many options on offer. From low-level units for use in well-lit towns to efficient and bright LEDs for dark country roads.
Similarly, if you’re going to be riding after sundown, invest in some reflective, hi-visibility clothing to make sure other road users can see you. And don’t forget the inner tube and pump so you’re prepared for any punctures! Any good cycling shop will be able to advise you on all of the above and more.
WHERE TO GO
Whether it’s the open roads, a cycle track or one of the many velodromes around the UK, there are plenty of places to explore on your bike and especially here in Sussex. The cycling community generally are a particularly tech savvy bunch, so there’s lots listed online. Cycling clubs and groups have sprung up all over the county too – a great option if you like group activities.
For those who love cycling, the feeling of freedom you get from the activity is unsurpassed. The fact you are moving forward in travel and often outside, seeing new things and exercising at the same time is a wonderful combination and is brilliant for keeping stress at bay. As Marco, a keen cyclist from Sussex explains, “Cycling is a great life metaphor. When you’re climbing a steep hill and the going gets tough, you want to give up. Then in an instant, it all becomes easier and the wind is at your back and there’s no better feeling.”
CAUTION: If you have any long-standing health concerns, always consult your GP if you’re starting a new exercise