11.15.2014

Cycling: why everyone should get on their bike

My Dawes Duchess


I am obsessed with cycling. Absolutely obsessed. If you follow me on instagram or twitter, you'll know that I take photos of my bike like most people photograph their dog/child/partner. Yes, I take a lot photos of an inanimate object.

Why am I so obsessed? Well, here are some of the reasons why I love cycling.

1. Keeps you fit

Cycling is an amazing kill-two-birds-with-one-stone activity. It gets you where you need to be, and burns calories too. Don’t have time to go to the gym? Cycle to the pub/workplace/shops instead.

As a mode of transport, a bike is incredibly efficient, so a 30 minute cycle burns only around 200 calories. That’s just a little more than a small glass of wine, or a little less than a chocolate bar. However, if you cycle to your dinner date, it’s like you never ate that pasta bake. Monitor your expenditure with an app like Fitness Tracker, so you don’t over-compensate.
Cycling to work is my personal favourite: it’s really hard to fit a workout into a 9 hour day, but I can always cycle to work. I live five miles away and it’s an excellent distance for a ride that raises your heart rate but doesn’t exhaust you. If you’re much further away, have you tried substituting some of your ride with a train journey?

How do I cope without a shower at work? Baby wipes and body spray, darlings. It’s like year 10 P.E all over again.

Thames Tow Path

2. Makes you HAPPY

‘Don’t ride to add days to your life. Ride to add life to your days.’
That’s one of my favourite sayings, and it’s true. Cycling allows me to appreciate things like a gorgeous sunset, the smell of rain and the exhilaration of beating my car-driving colleagues home. Plus, exercise is one of the best cures for stress and depression. Cycling home is like having a free counselling session – pedal out that office rage!
My favourite thing to do is plan a weekend cycle with T. This summer, we went to the New Forest and cycled over thirty miles in beautiful countryside. We regularly use the site Sustrans to plan a bike-friendly route.

Henley

 3. Saves you money
 I save £5 every day I ride to work. Not running a car has, over the last 5 years, might have saved me around £17,000 (a guesstimate based upon numbers from this Daily Mail article – pinch of salt though, y’all!) which is a staggering amount. I managed to put all that towards buying my house.

My bike requires very little maintenance – maybe £40 a year – and the only fuel it needs is FOOOOD. 
Plus, there are some AMAZING not-for-profit organisations around which will show you how to maintain your bike, like Reading Bicycle Kitchen! Prices start from just £4, which is great value. Teach a man to fish, and all that...


New Forest
4. Helps you to arrive on time

‘First Great Western is sorry to inform you that the 17:33 service to READING is delayed by 10 minutes.’
GOD I hate that announcement. I also hate queueing to get on the motorway, off the motorway, on the roundabout, past the school, and around the one way system. Most modes of transport suck. On a bike, however, I can normally overtake cars, take short cuts through parks... it’s AWESOME. The only thing to make me late is my terrible outfit-choosing ability.
Google Maps has a ‘bicycle’ mode which is really rather accurate, but I would always recommend doing a ‘test-ride’ before you take a new route to work.

Thames Tow Path at 7am (near Theale)



5. It’s really very safe

…if you wear a helmet, follow the rules of the road, and wear lots of lights at night.
There is a lot of press at the moment about cycling casualties and fatalities. These are inescapably tragic and really, every single individual should work to safeguard the cyclist. However, this starts with the rider. I am shocked by the number of cyclists I see jumping red lights, undertaking other vehicles and taking risks on roundabouts. If you behave in the same way a car would at give way signs, zebra crossings or traffic lights (I know, those are tempting to skip) other road users will respect you more. They’ll also be able to predict your behaviour. There will always be bad drivers on the road. Stick your middle finger up. They're idiots.

There is also a lot of debate surrounding helmets but I'm not one to believe the here say on the internet. I recently slipped on some wet leaves (when cycling - I'm okay at walking!). I was ‘only going over the road’ on a five-minute journey, but I lost control when braking. I was actually on the pavement, but I still could have been seriously hurt - get your lids on!

The bottom line is: I’ve been riding a bike in a busy town for five years and I have never had any accidents, but I do play it safe.
The only time you'll see me without a helmet is when these amazing invisible ones are a bit more affordable

 

Thames Tow Path (near Reading)
I hope this post inspires some cyclists! Do you ride, or have a favourite way to exercise? I'd love to hear it!