Ride on into freedom

Ten tips to carry on cycling beyond the lockdown

With most non-essential shops now open, pubs and restaurants scheduling to open on 4 July and travel restrictions due to be eased soon, we are slowly easing into freedom. While returning to old familiar routines may bring comfort, for most of us it may a quick end to the hobbies we may have picked up during quarantine, from baking banana bread to crochet.

One of the most keenly pursued hobbies during this time was cycling. In April, the number of people travelling by bike in Peterborough, Nottingham, Bournemouth, Poole and Westminster surged by more than 200% according to transport analysts at Vivacity Labs. In the same month, figures from the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) showed applications to buy bikes via finance hit an all-time high of £60 million. Although most shops worked round the clock to keep up with the unprecedented dement, a backlog of 20,000 order prompted a call for retired technicians to re-enter the trade.

If you are one of the millions who financed a shiny new bike or dusted down old two-wheeler that’d been in the shed for the last decade, and you’d like to carry on cycling but you’re not sure how you will find the time between a full-time job, commuting, home chores and social activities, here are some tips to help you ride on.

Pencil it in

Nothing says commitment like making a date with your new hobby. If you set a time, however short or long, to get out on your bike at least once a week, you will find it easier to commit to that day and time.

Find your flow

We are all different. What works for some people may not work for you. If you are not an early riser, don’t force yourself into getting up at the crack of dawn to hit the road. Likewise, if you are struggling to keep energy levels up into the afternoon, perhaps an after-work ride is not for you. Find what suits you best and work with that.

Set goals

Goals often help us to stay the course and cycling is no different. Try to set yourself realistic and achievable goals. For example, you can aim to cycle for half an hour once a week and once you’ve reached that target, you can incrementally increase the amount of time you spend on the bike or the number of times you can nip out for a ride.

Use an app

Tracking miles is easier as well if you use a fitness app like Strava, Kamoot or Ride with GPS. You don’t have to shell out on premium subscriptions either, as the basic accounts will allow you to see your route as you ride and keep track of your miles and cycling time.

Treat yourself

If you see cycling as more of a chore, a quick change to make feel more fun would be to treat yourself. Aim to visit a cafe for a cup of coffee on halfway on your ride, or plan to visit a part of town you haven’t visited before.

Celebrate small victories

Each time you smash a weekly goal or find yourself getting faster, celebrate your these small victories and they will spur you on. Despite having been out on some of the coldest, darkest days of winter, this June I struggled to motivate myself to go out on my bike. The week I achieved two 20-odd mile rides, I celebrated it by treating myself to a VeloPac I’d been wanting for a while. It not only keeps my essentials in a handy little pouch but is a daily reminder now that smashing goals can be rewarding.

Sign up to challenges or fundraisers

Some people are motivated by a challenge; others by giving back. Whichever category you fall into, there is always something you can sign up to motivate yourself, either by signing up to complete a certain number of miles or cycling hours over a month, or signing up to fundraise for a charity you feel passionate about by lasting the distance.

Fit your bike into your routine

Time-poor and not sure where to fit cycling? Try to see if you can fit your cycling around your life. Could you commute to work instead of driving or taking public transport if your office is a reasonable distance from home? Could you nip out to the shops or to catch up with friends on the bike? If you can fit your cycling into your daily routine, you will find it easier to get out on your bike.

Find a friendly club

As a new cyclist, you may find cycling by yourself either too lonely or too scary, which is normal. A quick search on Facebook might lead you to a local club of like-minded people. Not only will it make it easier to schedule in bike rides you can commit to but it will also help you meet like-minded people.

Join a Facebook group

Whether you have a group nearby you can join or not, there is always a group or two of like-minded individuals you can join online. Even though I started cycling just over a year ago, I only recently discovered Velo Vixen Women’s Cycling Chat chat and Re-cycle|Preloved cycling clothing for women – the former great for swapping tips and tricks as well as ride pictures and the latter to bagsie bargains.

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