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Get into Cycling!
Cycling is a very special activity: too special and too useful for it to be sidelined as just a sport or just a cheap way of getting about. We all need to change the way we think about personal transport, about freedom and leisure: muscle power is something to be proud of, and rarely is it such good fun to help change the world for the better in such an effective and visible way.
There has never been a better time to get cycling. There is a tremendous diversity of cycle designs to choose from - truly something for everyone. In many countries networks of cyclepaths have been established, and various government strategies are supporting and encouraging more and more people to cycle.
Cycling is good news for the environment and your local community. But the biggest benefit is for you as an individual.
Cycling is a low impact activity and one of the safest ways to exercise without risk of over-exertion or strain to muscles and joints. Your strength, stamina, aerobic fitness and general muscle function will all be improved. Regular physical activity encourages other healthy behaviour and could help you reduce weight or even give up smoking.
Lowering risk of heart attack
Your heart muscles are strengthened, resting pulse is lowered and blood fat levels reduced. People taking regular physical activity suffer far less heart disease than people who don't.
Shedding excess weight
By raising your metabolic rate and burning body fat you can lose weight. You can enjoy a more varied diet without increasing body weight. Cycling allows most people, even those who hardly ever exercise, to get fit easily and safely without undue physical strain.
Anxiety, stress and depression are all lowered by the physical activity itself, and the sheer pleasure and satisfaction of riding a bike. As part of your daily travelling routine it's a stress-free means of getting physically fit and gives you a real feeling of well-being.
Cycling is superbly convenient for short journeys, and takes you door-to-door. It's often faster across town than other forms of transport. It's quicker than walking, and five times more efficient. It's private transport at its best, giving you real independence. You go where you want, at your own pace, in your own time. As you do so, you get fitter, feel livelier and have more zest for life.
Above all, it's FUN!
Get a bike or get another
Unless you need something very specialised, the best place to buy a new bike is a specialist cycle dealer. Visit two or three near where you live and discuss your requirements. Price should not be your only consideration. A good quality bike fitted with appropriate tyres can get your cycling off to a flying start. If you already own a bike but haven't used it for some time, get it serviced by a competent mechanic to ensure that it is safe to ride. This also applies if you buy or are given a second-hand bike. Don't forget to safeguard your cycle with a good quality lock.
To work out what kind of cycle you need, first ask yourself: "What kind of cycling do I want to do?"
Maybe you've tried cycling in the past and been confused by lots of gears, or suffered saddle soreness, or lacked energy, or not felt confident stopping. Well, it's time to go back to the bike shop, where you'll discover a whole new generation of cycles available now, better than ever before. The trend now is to draw more people into the beautiful world of cycling, by producing bikes which are simpler, more comfortable, more efficient, easier to ride and control.
Many people start cycling on machines specified down to a price which can make riding them a pain. Poor quality bikes, used beyond their intended purpose, have persuaded millions that pedal-cycles are troublesome beasts that hardly ever work exactly as they should. The happy truth is that if you choose a quality machine built for low maintenance and long service you can expect years of untroubled travel.
You don't need to be an athlete. The aim is to keep comfortable while you ride longer distances at relatively low speeds. If you're sitting comfortably, slow travel is luxurious. Explore the latest padded and cut-away saddle designs, and consider a suspension seatpost if you still have a problem. Taking it even further, if you don't believe a bike can offer the ease of your favourite chair, try a full-suspension recumbent.
Make sure your bike is set up with the correct saddle height and handlebar position. If in doubt seek advice from a bike shop or get help from an experienced cyclist. Go cycling with a friend to build up confidence and make your first journeys social outings. Cyclists have the same rights as other road users and to be safe you must obey traffic laws, too.
The solutions are all there for you to choose from. Happy cycling!
• A regular cyclist can expect to be as fit as an average person ten years younger.
• On a bicycle you protect yourself against the ‘Western diseases' of heart disease, high blood pressure obesity and stress.
• On a bicycle you provide a motor which improves its own strength and efficiency—and even its working life the more it is used.
• On a bicycle you are over 15 times as efficient as a horse rider, in terms of energy consumed per kilometre travelled, and you can travel faster and further.
• On a bicycle you can travel up to 644 miles (1037 kms) on the energy equivalent of a litre of petrol.
• On a bicycle you weigh about six times more than your vehicle. In a car your vehicle weighs around 20 times more than you do.
• On a bicycle you use less energy in riding than a car uses to power its headlights. A mere 37.3W (0.05hp) will propel a cyclist at around 13km/h; a single car headlight uses around 60W.
• On a bicycle you can travel four times faster than you can walk using the same amount of energy.
• On a bicycle you can have your cake and eat it. A moderate half–hour each way commute will burn 8 calories a minute, or the equivalent of 11kg of fat in a year.
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Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride
John F. Kennedy