Cycling…

My most favourite exercise of them all.

And certainly one of the best weight loss exercises for over weight people as it doesn’t put massive amounts of stress and shock onto the joints like running does.

The reason why it’s such a great fitness booster is that you can use a bicycle as transport, either to and from work, or friends, or even doing your shopping. And that’s not even mentioning the miles you can do simply for enjoyment, exploring and enjoying your local area with your head up and out of the car while still sat on your bum.

Yes, truly, sit on your fat bum and lose weight and become super fit, just by buying a bike. I don’t care who you are, you can cycle far more calories than you can run, swim or weight lift, it’s just the way of it. Just look at the cyclists on the Tour de France. Skinny as, while still throwing as much calories down their necks as it’s possible for the human body to absorb.

So how to start…

Firstly you obviously need to buy a bicycle. And although this may seem a simple thing to say, if one has even the briefest of looks as to the many different types of bicycles on the market one can find themselves quite intimidated by the sheer choice alone.

So have a think first about what it is you want from a bike. If you’re the competitive sporty type then you would obviously want something competitive and sporty to suit your chosen style of cycling. But most cyclists aren’t like that.

If it’s just a means of transport to get you to the shops and back, around town, to work, etc., then you need a bike that either has mudguards or can take mudguards. Remember, not all bikes can as some bikes are designed purely for competitive cycling and you don’t use mudguards in those situations. You’ll also need a bike that can take a sturdy rear bike rack and some pannier bags to go on it to carry things like a change of clothes for work, or your shopping, etc..

You’ll also want to think at this stage about cycling position. If you just want a nice leisurely bicycle for pottering around town and going to the shops then get a bicycle that allows you to sit fully upright and take the stress out of your back. If you’re looking to be cycling 10 miles to work and back everyday then maybe you’ll be looking for something a bit more efficient with more lean forwards in your riding position.

There’s no point in buying yourself a bike that makes you lean forward if you have back issues or if you want to potter around in comfort at a leisurely pace, likewise, there’s no point in buying a bike that has you sitting up beg style if you plan on cycling 30 miles a day for fitness. Horses for courses, as they say.

You can also do what i do and that’s have two bikes. I have a road bike that’s built for speed that i use purely for fitness and exercise and an old hybrid with tall handlebars that allows me to sit totally upright when riding, mudguards and rear rack and panniers that i use for pottering around town on.

But whatever you want from a bicycle, you can most certainly go down to your local bicycle store and talk to the people there who will help you get exactly what you need and set it all up for you.

Conversely, most people know someone who is a cyclist and knows a fair bit about bicycles and in that case talk to them and maybe find a good deal on the internet. But remember, if you don’t know what you’re doing with a bicycle, don’t go buying one off the internet because you’ll encounter many problems trying to set it up to suit you. And your local bicycle store probably won’t be very helpful unless you pay them money as you didn’t buy it from them. So if you don’t know anything about bicycles, go to your local bicycle store and they should look after you happily even after you’ve bought the bike.

So once you’ve got your bicycle…

You’ll need to adjust a few things.

Firstly, adjust your seat height. This is the most important thing if you don’t want to bugger your knees up. When sat comfortably on your seat, place your heels on the peddles and peddle backwards until one peddle is all the way down in line with the tube running up to the seat. Without tilting your pelvis on the seat, ie., keeping your pelvis level, your leg should be fully straight when the peddle is all the way down with your heel on it. If your leg is bent, move the seat up, if you can’t reach the peddle with your heel, then lower the seat.

It is not the case that you set the seat height so that you can touch the floor while you sit on it. You do not sit on the seat while your feet are on the floor. If you need to stop you take your bum off the seat and move over the top tube and stand up on the floor. The seat is there to use while you’re riding the bike, not for when you’re stood still at junctions and the like.

Next, move the seat backwards or forwards so that your knee is in line with the peddle spindles.

Once the seat is sorted out, adjust your handlebars to suit your chosen riding position. You can see all of that here. You don’t want to look like Bradley Wiggings doing a time trial. Bradley is an extremely fit sportsman who has trained for years on his bikes and if you try to emulate him and his riding position you will definitely give yourself back issues. Start off with the most upright position that your bike can give you and get used to riding it like that. If you want to get more streamlined later on then it’s easy to lower the handlebars a little at a time allowing your back, shoulders and arms to get used to the extra strain you’re going to be putting on them. But please don’t do it all at once, you’ll only hurt yourself. You get a lot of road shock coming up through the front forks on some bikes and all that shock goes into your hands, arms, shoulders and spine, so allow your body to adjust slowly to Bradley’s streamline position if that’s what you’re wanting to look like.

Recommended…

I do really recommend GCN channel on youtube for anyone thinking of becoming a cyclist. OK, they are the total cycling junkies on there who have done a fair bit of sport riding in their time, but they do have a lot of good tips and a lot of don’t dos also. So well worth signing up with them. If nothing else, they are quite funny and will keep you amused for quite some time while you’re thinking about bikes and riding them properly.

Fear…

Too many times i hear the words from non cyclist that they’re fearful about traffic and the like. Well, to be honest, there isn’t much to fear. You just take into account a few simple rules like i have expressed here… and you’ll be safe to go.

For my own part, even as an experienced London Urban Comabat Cyclist now living in sleepy Devon, i actually prefer cycling between 5 and 7 am in the morning because the roads are so devoid of traffic. And before you think, oh my god, i’m not getting up at that time! If you are serious about losing weight and becoming fit then you need to give up the late nights and television and start on the early mornings. I wake up at 3.45am every day. I go to sleep at 7pm. Television is Babylon, early nights are Ital. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to or not.

Most of all…

Just go buy a bike and get riding. Even if you do buy the wrong bike at first you can always buy a more suitable one once you’re learned why the one you’ve got doesn’t suit. They don’t exactly break the bank when you compare them to the cost of a car. And to be fair, they’ll save you a fortune on the cost of running a car even if they aren’t the actual bike you end up really wanting.

JUST DO IT!!!

Get cycling, it’s the best way to stay fit and be fit. Nothing more to say.

Best wishes.