Written by Allen Lang-Norris.
Welcome to May? August? Who knows? But it does feel like we have been in lockdown one way or another for at least a year. Doubtless you would have been peacefully minding your own business on social media and saw some influencers tell you what they have achieved this lockdown when all you have achieved is to sit in a tracksuit and keep yourself together like the rest of us. Your poor dog has clocked up more miles than an Amazon delivery truck and JustEat has knocked on your door more than your family or friends have. Don’t even get me started on home-schooling, or Joe Wicks for that matter!
The pandemic may go on for the rest of the year, but the weather is going to get better and the days are getting longer. As appealing as another online HIIT workout while being shouted at by a PT on your TV is… I put it to you that there is another way to get fresh air outside (remember outside?) and burn some calories.
If you want to get some good exercise and burn a load of calories (other than the ones you use to raid the fridge) it is time to get on your bike!
The average person will burn anything from 450-750 calories in an hour of cycling which is actually loads when you think that your average 20min HIIT session will burn off up to 250. There is a tonne of health benefits but what’s more cycling is really beneficial for your mental health. If (like me) your office is now at the end of your bed (handy as I am never late for work anymore) just imagine what an hour in the countryside on your bike will do for you. It will rejuvenate you after being cooped up all day, plus it’ll be handy for your kids to burn off some energy allowing you to relax a bit more in the evening.
If you have never cycled or you used to cycle a bit, here are 5 of my top tips to help get you started on a bike and in the great outdoors (government permitting obviously….)
1– Get a bike. Yes, it’s an obvious one, but stick with me. There are loads of good cycling shops in the area, but my personal favourite is Rutland Cycling. The guys there won’t just sell you a bike, but they will give you a tonne of advice and they are at hand to help with any issues. If you have an old rusty bike take the bike to a shop (ideally Rutland Cycling) and get it serviced. You don’t want to find out that the brakes do not work when you are heading down a hill towards a junction! My personal recommendation is to get a hybrid bike so you can ride on and off road. Mountain bikes tend to be relatively heavy for newbies and road bikes are for when you start to take cycling seriously. Entry level is definitely a hybrid for me but speak to your local bike shop and find out what is right for you.
2- Be safe. The least fun part about cycling is wearing a daft helmet but you should definitely wear one because falling off without a helmet is… well, actually THAT is the least fun part. Good news is that you don’t need to put on all the Lycra, nor do you need to start shaving your legs (if you don’t already) to be aerodynamic. However if you are going to ride into the night please get some lights, and a reflective jacket. Some drivers will struggle to see you, which could be a good thing if you are wearing the aforementioned Lycra.
3- Hydrate! If you have been stuck at home all day, and you may have had to entertain your kids as well as work then coffee is your best friend. Try to get some water in your system during the day as well as taking a bottle of water with you when you are out cycling. You will work up quite a sweat if you are not used to cycling and you will definitely get thirsty.
4- Plan your route. At the time of writing this we can only travel around our local area so you will probably know where to cycle to avoid busy roads especially if you are new to cycling. You don’t want to start (or restart) cycling surrounded by traffic. As summer approaches its always good to head out to the countryside and (god willing!!) the pubs may reopen soon so you can incorporate a visit to your new local. Just don’t overdo it!
5- Enjoy yourself. Cycling is a fantastic way to enjoy yourself and it’s something you can do as a family, as a couple or solo. We are limited in terms of exercise but cycling in the UK in the summer is better than any other country I have cycled in during my years of endurance cycling.
Well done for making it this far through the lockdown (and my blog) if you can, treat yourself to a bike ride, as the mental and physical health benefits will keep you going. One day this pandemic may come to an end and we can go back to normal. I guarantee some of your fondest memories of this time will be ‘that time we cycled to so and so together’