Snow storms. Flash floods. ’Flu epidemics. After one of the harshest winters many can remember, there’s a high chance your bike has been sitting in the garage gathering dust. And while your bike body may have gone into hibernation, your desire to get outside is likely to be stronger than ever. Research shows being outside makes you feel more enthusiastic, alive and energised. The natural landscape also provides your body with the resources it needs – sun exposure resets your body clock, improves sleep patterns and amps up your vitamin D levels. There’s no doubt about it – outdoor activity is good for the body, mind and soul. And with a hint of warmth in the air, here’s what you need to know to inspire your outdoor cycling this season.
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Thinking of heading out on the roads for the first time? Whether you’re commuting or competing, Bex Rimmington, competitive cyclist with Merlin Cycles (merlincycles. com), has the advice you need for a smooth ride.
BEFORE ‘Prior to heading out the door, make sure you have a puncture repair kit with you, either in your back pocket or in the bike’s saddle bag. I always take two inner tubes, some tyre levers and a mini pump. Pack your mobile phone and some cash, in case you need to stop. A waterproof may also be handy – there are some really lightweight ones available that will fold into your back pocket.’
DURING ‘Fluid and fuel is a must-have for longer rides. Take a bottle or two of water and store some snacks in your jersey pocket to keep you going. Failing to stay hydrated and fuelled could cause you to hit the dreaded “wall” (when depleted glycogen stores cause sudden fatigue). This might lead you to have cramp and so little energy that you struggle to make it up that last climb. It might even mean you need to stop. Always remember to eat and drink when on the bike.’
AFTER ‘Clean and check over your bike after every ride, even if it’s a nice day. A quick wash and wipe will give you the chance to assess the components and make sure your bike is in a good condition for your next ride. Things to keep an eye out for include: checking the brake pads are not worn, ensuring the chain is clean and examining the tyres for cuts or punctures.’
HIT THE ROAD! Britain is a nation of cyclists. According to data from social sport app Strava’s Year in Sport, UK bikers clocked an impressive 192 million kilometres in 2017 alone. Start cycling now and who knows how many miles we’ll cover this year. But before you take to the tarmac, follow these essential starter tips from Reynold Antwi, head of cycle at AnotherSpace (anotherspace.london).
1 KNOW YOUR BIKE If you’re going to begin cycling outdoors, whether for fun or competition, be sure to understand how your bike works – in particular, get to grips with the gears. If you’re coming up to a big hill, slowly remove resistance to help you get to the top, then add on a little resistance to avoid going downhill too quickly.
2 PERFECT YOUR POSITION Position your saddle in a flat-to-slightly-upwards position to make sure you don’t slide forwards as you pedal. This will ensure you’re supported in all the right places for your ride. Also, be sure to pedal with your feet flat to maximise efficiency and speed – and to prevent injury – while cycling.
3 RESEARCH A ROUTE When you’re just starting out, select a few small rides that can give you a taste for the sport, then slowly build your way up to longer rides once you’ve given your body a chance to build a base of fitness. A recovery drink after a long, hard ride will help the body repair itself, in conjunction with some rest.