Is getting fit on your to do list or in your new year’s resolutions? Do you have a bike you want to use but you’re nervous about riding on the road? I’ll run through the main excuses people give for not being able to ride a bike, and by the end of the list you’ll be raring to go!
This is the big one. But it’s not as dangerous as you think… In the 2010 study ‘Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks?, researcherswanted to find out whether the health benefits from the increased physical activity of urban commuting outweighed the heath risks such as air pollution and accidents.
They found that for individuals who changed from driving cars to riding bikes the benefits of more exercise were much greater than the risks.
Keep the dangers in perspective, all activities carry risk.
…only ride where it’s fun
Remember, only ride where it’s fun. If you aren’t having fun, are scared or just too nervous, just hop off the bike and walk. There’s no shame in walking. If intersections freak you out, just indicate and pull over to the left, climb off and cross as a pedestrian.
I don’t know which way to go or where the bike paths are!
I get lost fairly regularly (just follow me on Strava to see some of my more impressive loops of the city) but try to look at it as an exploration rather than being lost.
Ride the City is a great resource which allows you to search for bike routes in your city and you can select a direct route or one that is mostly bike paths. Once you have selected a route you think will work, do a test ride on a Sunday or other time when it is not busy to build up your confidence.
Practice these riding skills to build your confidence & minimise the risk of falls:
Stay on the line – Ride as straight as you can, without wobbling or weaving. This is what cyclists and cars behind you will expect.
Make your presence known – When overtaking pedestrians, runners or other cyclists, you can use your bell or call out ‘Passing right’ (or whatever takes your fancy) to stop them from accidentally crossing into your path. Signal your turns so people around you can anticipate your next move.
Get that bum up – Speed bumps or uneven path? Lift your bum off the seat, keep both knees bent, & lean your weight back.
That sucks. Injuries are frustrating. I’ve noticed I either seem to feel flat and sore from not doing exercise or energised and sore because of doing exercise.
We all need to give up the idea that we’re some kind of precious animal who deserves to be completely comfortable at all times. It’s just not realistic.
…give up the idea that you must be completely comfortable at all times.
Whilst I’m no doctor or physio (and you should definitely see one of those before starting any rehab program), most physios will tell you that cycling is a great way to rehab injuries whilst still getting some cardio exercise in.
Cycling is low impact & non-weight bearing (you get to sit down whilst you work out… win!).
The movement is controlled.
Using gears means you decide the level of resistance.
You can vary the level of effort by cycling on different terrain.
The moves you make riding a bike help promote the flow of fluid which in turn helps cartilage heal itself… in fancy words, cyclic movement nourishes joint cartilage.
Cycling uses multiple joints together which mimics real life use of joints.
To get technical
… “by controlling the mode of cycling with varying seat heights and pedal positions, the ligaments can be relieved from these forces during the initial stages of the rehabilitative process. An exercise program can then be designed to apply controlled stress to these structures to enhance the healing and recovery processes.”
– McLeod WD and Blackburn TA from the abstract of their study Biomechanics of knee rehabilitation with cycling which appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 1980.
Sweat is fat crying etc etc…. Just try it, go slowly, drop your seat if you need to and build up bit by bit.
I don’t want my thighs to get massive!
Cycling is great exercise but come on ladies, do you think a little bit of cycling is going to bulk you up when all those dudes at the gym have to pick very heavy things up pretty much every day just for a bit of muscle?