How to be a cyclist life on two wheels

LIFE IS LIKE RIDING A BICYCLE - YOU DON'T FALL OFF UNLESS YOU STOP PEDALING ...

  • Bicycle
  • Six Ways Biking Boosts Your Health
  • Kit Check list
  • Your Bike Ready to Ride
  • Safety Tips

Bicycling

If you're biking already, you know how terrific it feels. But if you're holding back, now is a good time to get in the seat

Bikes are easier than ever to rent and the weather is perfect. Once it turns cold, you can take to a stationary bike, and for the especially fit, there's spin class.

Benefits of Cycling

Regular cycling can help you lose weight, reduce stress and improve your fitness. As well as information on the health benefits, you'll find plenty of tips below on equipment, road safety and cycle routes.

Recommended physical activity levels

• Children under five should do 180 minutes every day.

• Young people (aged 5-18) should do 60 minutes every day.

• Adults (aged 19-64) should do 150 minutes every week.

• Older adults (65 and over) should do 150 minutes every week.

Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it's also a form of transport. It saves you money, gets you fit and is good for the environment.

It's a low-impact type of exercise, so it's easier on your joints than running or other high-impact aerobic activities. But it still helps you get into shape.

For example, someone who weighs 80kg (12st 9lb) will burn more than 650 calories with an hour’s riding, and tone their legs and bottom. If you ride up hills or off-road, you'll also work your upper body.

The best way to build your cardiovascular fitness on the bike is to ride for at least 150 minutes every week. For example, you could cycle to work a few days a week or do a couple of shorter rides during the week with a longer ride at the weekend. You'll soon feel the benefits.

Here are the benefits of bike riding

You'll want to hop on your bike and hit the roads instantly after learning these six reasons cycling is so effective at helping you lose weight.

It Increases Your Daily Calorie Burn

Cycling also increases your daily calorie burn. It burns calories—hundreds of them—while you’re out there turning the pedals.

Even at a recreational pace of 13 to 15 miles per hour, you burn 500 to 600 calories in one hour.

That's about 4,000 per week—enough to burn off more than a pound—if you ride just an hour every day. An hour of walking, on the other hand, burns just 150 to 250 calories while jogging only burns between 350 and 450 calories.

Benefits of Cycling...

Physical inactivity has been linked previously with a wide range of health problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression and many forms of cancer. Research suggests that most people in London would benefit from increasing their activity levels and cycling offers a good opportunity to integrate this activity into everyday life.

Regular cycling can help you lose weight, reduce stress and improve your fitness. As well as information on the health benefits, you'll find plenty of tips below on equipment, road safety and cycle routes.

Kit checklist

Wearing a cycling helmet can help prevent a head injury if you fall from your bike.

It's important to wear a helmet that meets the following criteria:

• It is marked as meeting the British Standard (BS EN 1078:1997).

• It is a snug fit and positioned squarely on your head. It should sit just above your eyebrows, not tilted back or tipped forwards.

• It is securely fastened by straps, which aren't twisted, with only enough room for two fingers between your chin and the strap.

Make sure you replace your helmet every five years. Don't buy a second-hand helmet – it may be damaged and may not protect you properly.

Lights and reflectors

If you use your bike at night, it is compulsory to have:

• a white front light

• a red rear light

• a red rear reflector

• amber/yellow pedal reflectors – front and back on each pedal

Reflectors fitted to the front and the spokes will also help you be seen.

You can get lights that are steady or flashing or a mixture (steady at the front and flashing at the back).

A steady light at the front is important when you're cycling through areas without good street lighting.

Check that any steady light has the BS 6102-3 mark on it. Flashing lights don't have to meet the British Standard but they do need to:

• flash at a rate of one to four equal flashes per second

• be at least four candelas in brightness

Your pedal reflectors and rear reflector must be marked with BS 6102-2. You can also use a light or reflector that meets a standard accepted by another European Commission (EC) country (equal to the British Standard).

Additional lights and reflectors

You can use other lights as well as the compulsory ones, but they must:

• be the right colour – white at the front, red at the back

• not dazzle other road users

If they are flashing, it must be at a rate of one to four equal flashes per second.

bike ready to ride

Do the following checks on your bike regularly to make sure it's in good working order.

Front tyre and wheels

Lift the front end of the bike by the handlebar stem and then:

• Give the top of the wheel a bang with your hand to check that it doesn't fall out of the forks or move from side to side.

• Check the wheel doesn't move from side to side when you try to wobble it, to be sure the bearings aren't worn.

• Spin the front wheel – the brakes shouldn't rub on the wheel rim.

• Squeeze the sides of the tyre – inflate it if it feels soft.

• Look for gaps, cuts or bulges on the tyres – these are signs that the tyres are worn and need to be replaced.

If you have a front mudguard, there should be at least 5mm between the front mudguards and the tyre. Remove the mudguard if it rubs against the tip of your shoe when you pedal.

Lift the rear of the bike by the saddle and go through the same checks for the back wheels.

Brakes

Apply the front brakes. Check that:

• The brakes work – try pushing the bike forward with the brakes on.

• The brake pads sit evenly on the wheel rim – they shouldn't touch at one end and not the other.

• The cables inside the brake levers aren't frayed.

• The brake levers and handgrips are tight on the handlebars, all the nuts and screws are attached and the ends of the handlebar tube are covered.

Apply the back brake and go through the same checks. The back tyre should slide, not roll, when you apply the brakes and push the bike forward.

Handlebars and steering

All the parts on the handlebars should be tight and you should be able to steer freely. Release the brakes, stand in front of the front wheel and grip it between your knees. Then make sure nothing is loose when you try to:

• turn the handlebars from side to side

• apply the brakes and try to rotate the handlebars

Saddle

Your saddle should be set at a height that's comfortable for you.

Place one heel on the pedal. Your leg should straighten when the pedal is furthest from the saddle. Make sure you don't raise the saddle high enough to see the height limit mark on the seatpost. If the saddle needs to be this high for you to sit comfortably, you probably need a bigger bike.

Move towards the rear of the bike and hold the saddle tightly. Check that you can't move it up and down or from side to side. If it moves, tighten it.

Chain, gears and pedals

Ask someone to work the pedals by hand while you hold the rear wheel off the ground by the saddle. Then:

Safety Tips

• Look behind you before you turn, overtake or stop.

• Use arm signals before you turn right or left.

• Obey traffic lights and road signs.

• Don’t ride on the pavement unless there's a sign that says you can.

• On busy or narrow roads, don’t cycle next to another person.

• When overtaking parked cars, watch out for car doors opening suddenly and allow room to pass safely.

• Don’t use headphones while cycling.

• Never use a mobile phone while cycling.