Everyone is new to cycling at some point and we know how daunting cycling can be for the beginner or casual rider for a number of reasons. Even with the most experienced riders no two rides are the same even when doing an identical route. A number of factors can dictate this ie other road users, weather etc. We have provided some helpful tips and reminders which we’ll update for you on a monthly basis.

5 Benefits of Cycling

Cycling improves your mental well-being

Whether you are cycling in a group or going solo, cycling offers the rider the ability to exercise and explore the outdoors. It is commonly known that exercise promotes a positive mood by the release of endorphins. This feel good chemical is naturally produced by the body to improve self-esteem and mood. Along with this, cycling is a social activity, so therefore will increase your social interaction and social circle. Evidence has shown that cycling can reduce the likelihood of depression and provide better cognitive function.

Cycling Encourages Weight Loss

Weight loss comes down to one simple fact. Spend more than you earn. The calories that you burn must be greater than that of which you consume. Depending on intensity, cycling can burn upwards of 400 calories per hour. Of course there are other factors which contribute to weight loss, but as long as you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly you should start to see some results, if that is your aim.

Cycling Increases Muscle – 

Whether you are cycling on the flats or climbing up hills, you will feel a resistance against your legs. As the gradient of the road increases, so does the resistance of the pedals. This will require your muscles in your legs to contract which stimulates muscle growth, resulting over time in you becoming a stronger bike rider. You’ll then be setting PB’s up hills which once felt like Mount Everest. Cycling is perfect for developing strength in areas such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. You will be sure to feel the burn in your legs during and after your ride, so be sure to recover properly before you head out on the road again.

Improved Health Markers – 

Cycling can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Whether its a lung busting hilly ride or a casual cruise. Cycling is a form of physical activity that requires the cardiorespiratory and metabolic functions of the body to work for long periods of time and at different intensities. Therefore providing the body with many potential health benefits. Cycling has been proven to show improvements in cardiovascular fitness, risk reduction in cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and in the prevention of falls. Overall, cycling is a great way to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.

Injury Risk – 

Not only does cycling come with benefits of developing strength and reducing the risk of health related issues but it also reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injury. Cycling is non-weight bearing in nature, so it is less likely to cause injury both acute and chronic. Now this is not to say they won’t occur, therefore it is important you get a bike fitting to gain the correct bike setup in accordance to your body measurement. This will minimise the risk of injury and keep you in the saddle.

Cycling top tips

Pre-ride

Learn how to change a flat tyre 

You can guarantee you’ll experience a flat at some point and it’s likely it could be at the furthest point from home. Essential that you practise how to fix a puncture, so you’re not at the side of the road too long especially in extreme weather conditions. As a consequence of this it’s either an expensive taxi ride home or the annoyance of a friend or loved one that has to pick you up.

Better to practise in the safety of your garden than be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Pack the correct equipment 

To fix the above you’ll need the correct equipment. So in a small saddle bag carry the essentials ie two tubes, tyre levers and bike pump (get it fixed to your bike), also some thin gloves that protect your hands if you can. Nothing worse than fixing a flat tube and you’ve forgotten to check the inside of the tyre only to find the culprit is still in there, you ride 100 yards down the road and your tyres flat again. Make sure you have 2 inner tubes.

Correct bike fit – 

When buying a bike it’s important to have the correct fit. This will ensure you steer clear of unnecessary injuries and strains when out, especially on the longer rides. Knee and back problems can easily happen if you don’t adhere to this. If you can get fitted out at an established bike shop ie Cheltenham Cycles to ensure your future rides will be as comfortable as possible.

Correct clothing – 

The above will ensure you have as smooth a ride as possible. It’s essential, especially when starting out or having not ridden for a while, that you have padding for the saddle area. There’s nothing worse than a sore behind half way round because you haven’t attired properly, it will make life tough if this happens to you. Don’t wear pants with cycling bib shorts!

Assess the weather – 

The weather in England is usually unpredictable, so it’s important you align how long you’re out for with  the weather in that particular area. There are rarely days where it is perfect, unlike in the Alps, so enjoy those days, but make sure you’re properly equipped for any changes that may occur. Jackets can now be folded down to virtually nothing and stored in the back pockets, arm and leg warmers are a good idea as they can added or taken off if necessary whilst on route.

Eat well before – 

It’s important you fuel up properly before you ride. This is essential on longer rides, load with water, carbs, energy drinks, something is always better than nothing. As cycling is a great way to lose weight it means you can get away with eating more the more you ride of course, muffins, cookies, coffee and cakes are always a bonus when getting out on the bike without feeling guilty.

Plan your ride – 

This is where we come in. It’s so important you understand where you are in your cycling life. Yes we want to push ourselves further but it’s always best to achieve this in small steps over time. An essential part of planning is knowing your body, how do you feel, how long you think you can ride, do you go flat, hilly or in between as one wrong turn can send you 10 miles the wrong way and into a dark place mentally and physically. In the Alps, we had one guy who didn’t listen to instructions and follow the group and ended up 12 km in the wrong direction downhill. Guess what he had 12 km uphill to get to where we left him, but he decided on an expensive taxi ride back to the hotel.

Our expert knowledge of the Cotswolds will help you alleviate these issues and allow you to enjoy what lies ahead. There’s nothing worse than continually going down blind alleys. The thrill of cycling is always seeking new journeys and achievements with peace of mind. 

Mid-ride

Keep refueling  

Majorly important that you take onboard plenty of fluids whilst cycling , (always have 2 bottles on your bike) , be it water or energy drinks. The old adage of little and often should be at the forefront of your mind. Energy bars, fruit, cookies, sugar sweets, gels are all an essential piece of cycling equipment you should have. Naturally, the longer you ride the more you will need to eat and drink to maintain performance, avoid bonking at all costs. Bonking is virtually collapsing on the bike.

Pace yourself

Know your limits. Yes you want to improve and get fitter and faster for longer but don’t do this to the detriment of one particular ride. Know what you have ahead and plan accordingly, be that on the flat or a climb. To help with this it’s always best to ride in a group where you can conserve energy, we can help with this on one of our group rides. Experience beats anything though and the more you ride the better you know your body, it’s capabilities and the surrounding areas you ride in. Again we have all been there across all parts of the Cotswolds so are at hand to help when needed.

Know your bike and gears – 

Experience again will get you used to how your bike handles and the best gearing for you at a certain time. The gearing aspect will also help you realise how fit your getting, when you can ride a particular section in a tougher gear you know your starting to crack it.

Take a break – 

On the longer rides allow for a stop somewhere. Not only to rest the body, but refuel and have a chat and relax with your mates. Nothing quite beats stopping in a nice country cafe, chilling out, refreshing and looking forward to the road ahead.

Changeable weather should affect riding style – 

Your riding style should be different in wet, dry and intermittent weather conditions. Especially in rain proceed with caution and steer clear of painted lines that are wet, they are very dangerous and slippery.

Post-ride

Reflect on your achievements  

Nothing better than finishing a ride and looking back on Strava and seeing where you improved from before. Set goals if you like for certain segments and see if you can achieve them.

Refuel

Eat what you like, cycling gives you that luxury.

Clean your chain and check your bike for any potential problems.

Plan your next route, get back on the bike as soon as possible.

We will be updating these pages each month with helpful tips, there may be videos or links to other sites to help you become more knowledgeable and hence unlocking the road!

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