For the newbies who have never biked much or to those who have been out of the saddle a long time, there’s a pretty significant first question to answer – why should you bother? What are the benefits? In this series we’re going to outline 3 reasons in each post outlining why cycling is a worthy pursuit (and you can expect hundreds if not more follow on posts expounding on this in the future).
Reason 1 – Cycling is one of the most effective workouts you can do
Sources tell us that cycling can, on average, burn somewhere between 300 and 600 calories per hour on a basic to moderate intensity ride. There are few other workout sources where you can achieve this level of burn without putting significantly more strain on your body. It’s likely that you’d burn more calories running for an equivalent time period, but the level of exhaustion and strain would of course be much greater (this is NOT of course disparaging running as an exercise, its one of the most fantastic cardio exercises there is).
Its worth noting of course that one can still put in substantial miles cycling and not have it be a panacea for ones health and fitness concerns. Especially if you are looking to focus on your wider health and well being, what you eat is a major factor in reaching those goals, and it is difficult to out-cycle a poor diet.
Reason 2 – Cycling IS NOT just a workout – its a fantastic method of transportation
Bicycles are known to have become prevalent sometime in the early 1800’s, and of course their invention was not merely due to designing new leisure activities, but to providing an incredibly efficient mode of transportation. Their usage even in non-geared, less efficient configurations allowed speeds of 10 MPH or greater, significantly faster than walking and significantly cheaper and with less resulting dung than utilizing a horse.
Over 200 years later, and bikes have become more lightweight, efficient, and accessible to the masses. Furthermore, unless you’ve been living under a rock for 30+ years you’ve noticed an awful lot more discussion of sustainable transportation and green initiatives. There is nothing more green than a transportation method with no emissions and decent speed. This has led to many cities across the globe attempting to improve roadway structures to accommodate even more cyclists, a situation that is getting better by the day in terms of ensuring paths are safe and accessible for cyclists.
Reason 3 – Cycling can be done at any pace you choose, or any place you choose
This is a big one and I wanted to call it out specifically. Often when beginning any athletic endeavor its easy to compare yourself to others, resulting in quick disillusionment. Cycling can often be one of the hardest if you’re concerned with the perception of others, because you will often see other more experienced cyclists or even just pedestrians who you feel might be judging you. As a result I want to state one clear and unequivocal fact; you do not have to do anything at any pace other than you own. I’d implore you to take this truism to heart early in your journey, as it will be just as applicable should you continue cycling for years and gain experience.
Cyclists are human, and there’s a large population of them. Not all are great and welcoming, but most are. You will sometimes see certain cyclists on the road doing things that are dangerous or irresponsible. As such its important to remember that, unlike in other sports, experience doesn’t necessarily equate with wisdom. As a result, the most important thing you should remember is to experience cycling at your own pace. If you want a leisurely ride to smell the autumn air, go ahead. If you want to climb hills at blistering speed, also go ahead (but be safe!). One of the great beauties of cycling is that you can choose what sort of journey you want to go on, and there’s no “one size fits all” convention. The increase in bike rental opportunities in many major cities also means that you can take your passion with you across the globe.