1) WHY CYCLE ?
Cycling is one of my favourite ways to travel around as it not only gets me there, but I can do some bonus cardio training in the process. It burns calories (c. 120calories per mile), elevates the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, eases the risk of cardiovascular disease and it’s pretty soft on the environment too! Compared to running, which puts a lot of strain on the body (especially the knees), cycling is very low impact exercise and is kinder to your joints. It builds stamina and strength, with fewer injuries along the way. If you’re worried about losing precious muscle mass because of the cv, cycling actually develops muscle, especially in the lower body as power is generated by the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, which will fuel additional calorie burn even after the journey has ended. It will also stimulate the production of HGH (human growth hormone), and remember, muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so this is exercise that keeps giving!
2) THE BIKE ?
In the pic above, I’m on what I think is the Ferrari of bicycles; the sleek, curvaceous, sexy ‘Pinarello’ FPQuattro. This exceptionally serious road bike is built for speed, it’s ultra lightweight (the frame weighs a feather-light 1.1kg!), and has a carbon chassis honed in a wind tunnel to perfect the aerodynamics! I don’t own it, I was merely lent it for the day, but this is my idea of a dream bike!
3) THE ROUTE ?
These days there are so many gadgets to kit out your bicycle with. There’s the low-tech mudguards / mirrors / bags / bells / comfort-saddles… but I like the more high-tech functional stuff. The Garmin GPS is my way of keeping track of my routes. I think it has enhanced my cycling performance by making my training far more productive; it enables measurement of the heart rate, power, speed, altitude and even position in London’s cafes to remarkable accuracy. Not only will you know where you are but also exactly how far you’ve been or need to go; and you can race your ghost if it’s a regular route, which encourages progress! The GPS is route-tailored meaning it will select the right route for your specific training, e.g. endurance, long distance, hill rides etc. So in essence, I think it helps you to cycle smarter!
And once at home after a long relaxing, hot shower you can sit down with a cup of tea, download and analyse the data on your computer, and figure out exactly how to improve your performance for next time. You can even create an online profile and connect with the social media world to share and receive info, courses and routines etc. They’re not cheap, but I think they’ve revolutionised my cycling experience, and my ability to get a good workout from it!
4) THE COMMUNITY ?
Just as there are running clubs, so too are there cycling clubs! In the same way my motivation is boosted by doing a group class at the gym, it’s the same with cycling; find a cycle group in your local area and go for a trial session. Training in a group will improve your cycling giving you the tools and focus you need whether you’re looking to train in the lead up to an event/race or just for general fitness. I find it’s nice to have a deadline or goal in mind, so why not discover charity bike rides! A friend (and cycling-novice!) took part in her very first charity ride last year – London to Paris – and she absolutely loved it, describing ‘a massive sense of camaraderie’, and ‘feel good you just can’t beat!’ She did add it was a very intense 4days and added that you must, must prepare well ahead of time.
It’s dangerous on the roads, so maybe join an ‘advanced road safety’ group which teaches you how to stay safe in the mental London traffic! It also explains bike maintanence which is crucial for trips and newbees.
Cycle buddy links cyclists up with other cyclists in the same area for training rides or mountain biking. The website encourages you to log your ride to share routes and training experiences.
Happy cycling! Faya x