Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad

I like to ride my bicycle.
Cycling has enjoyed a surge in popularity of late. According to sources, the pandemic generated an additional £1bn of UK bike sales (Forbes, 2021). What the Wiggins is going on?

Bike rides were a large part of my youth. Back then, I had the freedom to roam and explore. I feel for kids, who've lost this freeness and adventure.

Social media connected us, then convinced parents that the world was unsafe. You can't fart without it hitting Twitter.

Plenty of my friendships were cemented over bike rides. Think of the movie 'Stand By Me', on bikes, with less Corey Feldman and corpses.

Until last year, I hadn't rode for twenty years. Now I'm back in the saddle, making up for lost time. This post is about my journey back into cycling. 

Getting Into Bikes Again 

So since shifting lockdown pounds, I have been maintaining my fitness. As it happened, my 40th year came at the right time. The good wife treated me to a hybrid bike, which was not cheap. 

Due to high demand, the bike took a month to arrive. But before long, I was ready to commence the Tour de Dad years. I don't enjoy cardio, so cycling makes it palatable. 

On the roads, I still feel like a charlatan, seeking acceptance from the two-wheel brigade. I don't know if this is normal and passes? 

I still feel like a charlatan, seeking acceptance from the two-wheel brigade.

Safety is a big consideration, and I'm not ready to check-out yet. Bike lights can be bought cheaply and I have a high visibility jacket. Most importantly, I invested in a quality cycle helmet. Bikes are smaller than cars, so it's important you can be seen.

For the first few weeks, I was just regaining my road sense. I started with a few local cycling trips, no more than a couple of miles. As I built-up my confidence, I started to become more ambitious.

Cycling Epiphanies

I have noticed a few things since cycling again. Firstly, you see the world differently on two wheels. From cycling around, I have discovered new areas of my town. Cycling opens your eyes to the beauty around you.

Cycling also gives you a community feel, like you're in a club. When I pass fellow cyclists (on the road), I often get a nod or smile. Cyclists are nice people, regardless of ability. You don't get this with car users, drive like a moron and its derogatory hand gestures all round. 

Having said this, I don't feel that road users hate cyclists. Be courteous, signal and obey general road etiquette, and you'll be ok. It's a negative perception, but not typical of my experience.

Cycling Apps, Getting Smart

GPS: Don't worry, I avoided the river!
A big development in the cycling world, are smart apps and technology. They basically allow you to GPS track your cycling routes and progress. 

I am new to cycling tech, but have delved into what's available. At first, I started using 'Google Fit' for my cycling adventures. 

It uses simple GPS, tracking progress and awarding heart points. Heart points are Google's scientific measurement, for activity levels. It work's flawlessly with any android smartphone.

Recently I gave 'Strava' a whirl, which is popular among seasoned cyclists. It's feature rich, with a community feel, allowing interaction with friends. It also talks to Google Fit, giving it mass appeal. A lot of runners use it, so its the 'go to' app for exercise nuts.

Definitely look into smart technology and what is available. It can be fun to track where you cycled to and how quickly you did it. You can also track other activities, and get a picture of your activity levels.

Health Benefits Of Cycling

Cycling is considered a low-impact cardio activity, because the bike takes the impact. As you get older, respect your body and pick lower impact activities. 

Joining dad for a cycle.
Some people like to run, but running wreaks havoc with your joints. This is magnified, if you are overweight or have bad running technique. The last thing you need is muscle and joint pain. 

Like most exercise, cycling has mental health benefits. It lifts moods, reduces stress and anxiety. Cycling also improves coordination, balance and leg strength.

I recently bought a bike seat for my two-year old. Get the family involved. As you can see, he is joining me on bike rides. Does he like it? I don't know, but he isn't complaining!

Final Thoughts

Get a bike and get out there, that's my advice. Put the inhibitions to one side and just enjoy it. Now is the perfect time to buy into cycling.

It's nice to do physical activity, with enjoyment attached. With the lighter evenings, now is a great time to be staying fit outdoors.

Be safe and buy all the safety gear, lights, a decent helmet etc. Respect other road users and obey the rules. Get the family involved and enjoy the spring and summer, on a bike!


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