“I like to ride my bicycle…..”
We’re done with swimming. So if you’re an “aquaphobe” you’ll be happy. Now it’s time for 5 whole glorious weeks dedicated to bike stuff 🙂
I love my bicycle. There are times on the bike on a calm sunny day when you get a feeling of “flow” that eludes you when you’re trying to regulate your breathing during a swim and is definitely missing from the challenge of running (but then I’m not that good at running!)
If you love your bicycle too, or you used to and need some motivation to get it out from under piles of junk in the garage, pump up the tires, oil the chain and set off on an adventure, here we are to help you!
Well, there is lots of strong evidence it’s good for you: improving fitness – even in commuter cycling – reducing cardiovascular risk, improving your “good” cholesterol and reducing your risk of cancer. But is that enough to make you get your bike out of deep hibernation?
Get on your bike!
Sometimes with motivation you have to build yourself up to it. Other times you have to “rip the plaster off”: just put your running shoes on, stop procrastinating and get out of the door. But with a pushbike you can work yourself into it. Firstly, find the bike at the back of the garage and extricate it. Then find a friendly local bike store and take the bike there for a service. This has a number of important motivational functions –
#1 you have to pay out money for the service, you’re not blowing hundreds on a new bike, but you are committing some pounds to this project, so you’re more likely to ride, to get your “money’s worth”.
#2 You’ve got yourself a new accountability buddy or two. The bike shop team LOVE to see you riding. They are enormously supportive. Tell them you’re taking up biking again and they will give you tips, techniques, ideas and ask you about it – so you’d better have done it!
#3 You’ve given yourself some breathing space – the bike won’t be ready for a bit, but when it is it’ll be shiny & sparkly and you’ll want to take it out for a spin
It’s also a safety thing – it’s the opportunity to check your helmet is in date (or buy a new one) – 5 years is the industry accepted standard and there should be a sticker inside saying when you bought it. It means your chain is well oiled, your tires are pumped up and your brakes are effective.
Nerves, weather and company
You’ve got your bike back from the shop and you’re ready to go. It’s raining. Go swimming instead. Go for a run (running in the rain is lovely). There’s no point ruining your motivation with a miserable wet ride. (didn’t think I’d let you off like that, eh!?) Look at the weather report and plan your first ride on a nice day with minimal wind.
You might feel nervous. Go and have a little potter round the local car park and get a feel for your bike again. Nerves tend to reduce with more information and increase with increasing amounts of “unknowns”. So, plan a route using Strava or “map my ride” or the bikemap app and be conservative about how far you can go. Know who you will call if you get too tired, have a puncture you can’t deal with, know you won’t be too far away for them to come and get you.
You might want company – there are plenty of cycling clubs and groups, but often newbies or re-starters feel very nervous that they won’t be able to keep up. Cycling clubs are very friendly, so you could give it a try, anyway . They usually have a rule that the group goes at the pace of the slowest rider.
“proper preparation prevents piss poor performance”
But just “be prepared” and then you can relax and get your cycling mojo back. Get your spare inner tubes, tyre levers and pump/CO2 ready, watch this video and even practice changing the inner tube. Wear something sensible – i.e. trousers shouldn’t flap about and get caught in the chain, weather reports can be wrong so avoid denim etc.etc. consider high vis. and decide if you are going to need lights (probably for your first ride out ensuring it’s in daylight is a good idea!)
Do you need food? Pack it if so (more than 90 minutes out – take food!) Do you need water (YES! You never know what might happen….)
Take your phone, take a bit of cash money and a bit of plastic money and just go!