Cycling has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. A surveyfrom Sport England at the end of 2013 revealed that more than two million adults in England are now riding bikes at least once a week.
This makes cycling the third most popular sport in England. Cycling has been on an upward trend, inspired by the continued success of the Great Britain team in international competitions, not to mention the emergence of athletes such as Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins. But the participation far outweighs the feel good buzz of London 2012 – cycling numbers grew three times more last summer than the summer before. The legacy of inspiring more people to get out and enjoy the sport is gathering pace.
Cycling is a great sport for all. As a form of exercise, it has a broad appeal, as it can be enjoyed by all ages, to a certain degree. This makes it an ideal activity for a family: as the summer months (and hopefully warmer and drier weather) beckons, there’s no better time for Mum and Dad to drag their bikes out of the garage, and head out for a ride with kids in tow. Even better, put the bikes in the boot of the car, on a roof rack or tow bar, and drive to a park, or into the countryside,where you can go off-road and really enjoy the scenery.
Take some lunch and drinks, and you can make a day of it. In this kind of setting, you’ll barely notice that you’re puttingin some seriously beneficial work. It’s a low-impact form of exercise so it won’t take a toll on your joints, and as well as being great for cardiovascular fitness it tones the rider’s legs and bottom. It burns calories, too: the NHS has calculated that someone weighing 12st 9lb loses 650 calories with an hour’s riding.
Of course, while cycling can be enjoyed at a leisure and recreational level, the more committed embrace it a serious, competitive sport. If you want to take your cycling up a grade, consider joining a club. There are more than 1,500 cycling clubs affiliated to British Cycling, ranging from informal groups who ride just for fun to competitive racing teams. There are clubs that specialise in road or track cycling, BMX, cycle speedway, or mountain biking (MTB). Joining a club is a way of developing your skills, challenging yourself, and making new friends.
You don’t necessarily have to be a club member to enter a race, either – the British cycling website carries a list of events which are open to enter, so browse it to see if there is anything coming up in your area this year. There is almost certainly something to suit your diary, and level of experience.
What are you waiting for? Join the cycling craze, get fit and, most importantly, have fun!