Completing RideLondon after five hours in the saddle

The best workout in the world

The Tour De France is the greatest cycling event in the world. Such a shame it is over for another year. Bring on 2015.

Cycling has grown in popularity in the UK over the past few years with cycle lanes, Boris bikes and local cycling events all playing their part. To have the first three stages of the Tour taking place in the UK is testament to its growing popularity.

Cycling in general has blossomed and I am sure the Olympics and televised cycling events have helped fuelled the interest in cycling.

The Tour De Yorkshire, Cambridge and London

There is no escaping the wonders of cycling and the workout you will get. Not only does cycling work many of our main muscle groups, it is an individual sport, so you will have to work very hard. You would think that cycling works your lower body predominantly, the quadriceps, the hamstrings and gluteals. Cycling engages so many more muscles and for that reason if you are looking for a total workout experience look no further than cycling.

If you have had problems with your joints in the past, like your knees, cycling is a low weight bearing exercise and will not impact your joints like running. If anything it will help to strength those muscles around those troublesome joints.

On those long cycles your core, your back muscles not to mention your heart (your heart is a muscle) are all getting a workout too. Getting up those tough hills requires you to engage all those muscles if you are to stand a chance of getting to the summit. It is brutal stuff sometimes but the feeling is amazing and what a way to burn fat and gain muscle.

Your guide to getting cycle fit

The TDF (Tour De France) is a privilege for a select few riders. This does not mean we should stop dreaming. I cycled in my first peleton this year and took part in this year’s RideLondon 100 cycling event.

So you are inspired and want to get on a bike asap but not sure where to start? Here are my top ten cycling tips to help get you started.

  • Buy a road/racing bike – An obvious one this one. if you don’t have a bike get down to your local bike shop and ask them if they have any second-hand bikes. You might get a great deal. £200-£500 for a good starter bike. It does not have to be a racing road bike but racing bikes are lighter and can make things a lot easier for you on your bike rides. They are more expensive though. Maybe Facebook your friends to see if they are looking to sell their bike or visit Facebook Marketplace.
  • Start slowly – please start slowly and only cover short distances (no more than 5-10 miles) to begin with. Get a feel for the bike. It might have been a while since you last rode a bike. Plot your route too. Make sure the route is flat. Try not to over do it too quickly. Hill cycles will come in time
  • Buy a good cycling helmet. It should be law in the UK to buy and wear a cycling helmet but it isn’t. Boris anything you can help with here?
  • Set some cycling goals. This may involve cycling to work twice a week, entering a cycling event or meeting up with some friends to cycle a particular route
  • Make sure the bike has been serviced. It is difficult to get any speed up, set a good pace or generally get any fitter if the bike keeps letting you down
  • Purchase a bike speedo (£30-£50). This will help you to determine you speed, cadence (how many times your pedals go round per minute on a specific gear setting) and time on the bike. Having a speedo will help you to benchmark your performance and set further smart cycling goals
  • Purchase/wear clothes that you are comfortable in. Cycling with padded shorts is advisable
  • Be safe – whilst cycling with a helmet, a hi-vis jacket and a set of good lights may not get you fitter, they will keep you safe and play their part in helping you to concentrate on your fitness goals
  • Energy. It is important to ensure you are energised before, during and after a bike ride, especially if it is going to be a long cycle. Have a good breakfast before you cycle; a bowl of porridge with a banana would be a good start. Take a drink with you and possibly something to eat during your cycle. These will keep you hydrated and energised (a flapjack is perfect) during your cycle
  • Stretch. You can stretch during or after your bike ride. No need to stretch beforehand. Cold muscles need to be warmed up first. If you feel your muscles need a stretch during the cycle, get off the bike and have a stretch. You must stretch afterwards however. Your muscles will need lengthening and blood can pool in your muscles after exercise too

These tips are just the start. If you require any further clarification on these tips please use the comment box below.