On your bike
Cycling is a fun sport. It can be a great way to get fit. You can also meet lots of other people. A bike does not have to be expensive. It can also last a long time. A road bike is usually the best choice. But trikes are good for people that have difficulty with balance. I started cycling seriously this year. I quickly gained fitness. I am now able to ride long distances. In October I cycled from Melbourne to Sorrento and back. It was very exciting and enjoyable. There were thousands of other cyclists who took part.
Posted by: Katrina Breen, on 15/12/10
Suddenly there are cyclists everywhere
The warm weather is finally here. Suddenly, the roads are full of cyclists. There are individual riders and groups of bicycles everywhere.
I love cycling. It is fun and easy to enjoy. It’s a great feeling riding with other cyclists. I feel strong and enjoy chatting away to others.
Cycling also helps me keep fit. As a person who needs help with motivation, I have found it a great way to make sure I exercise. The gym does not work for me. I lack the self-discipline. I find going for a ride with friends is much easier. It’s an amazingly social sport. I only started riding earlier this year. But I am now happy to get up at 5:30 in the morning to join the group for a ride. Sometimes on the ride I cannot find the breath to chat. But at the end of the ride we usually stop at a coffee shop for a chat.
I am stronger and fitter than I used to be. Experienced riders have given me some great tips. I have also helped encourage beginners to start riding. I have met some great people. Wherever I ride now someone is likely to ride past and say hello.
Easy on your wallet
Cycling is not an elitist sport. It can be really cheap. A basic bicycle can last you for 20 years or more.
When choosing a bike it is a good idea to ask advice from a reputable store or someone who rides regularly. If most of the riding you will be doing is either on the road or paths, a road bike is usually your best choice. Road bikes let you ride at a good speed with minimum effort. But hybrid, commuter or mountain bikes are also popular choices. The size of the bike is the single most important factor. Don't make the mistake of buying a bike that is too big or too small just because it is a bargain.
Besides the bike, a few other items are essential. You need a helmet, plus front and rear lights. Gloves are also good. I also recommend eye protection, especially for when it rains. And you might want to consider padded shorts once you start riding longer distances.
Riding with a disability
Cycling is suitable for many people with a disability. Some people who have trouble walking distances might find riding a bike at a slow pace is a much gentler form of exercise than walking. You can also travel further in less time.
Another option worth considering might be a recumbent trike. These three-wheeled vehicles have the rider much lower to the ground lying back in a comfortable seat. They have been found to be faster than a bicycle when using the same amount of effort. Trikes are great for people with back problems and people with balance difficulties. There are also upright adult tricycles, although they are much slower.
Around the Bay
A big ride can provide extra motivation for regular training. In October I rode in the Around the Bay in a Day event. The ride started in Melbourne and travelled to Sorrento and back. It was around 200km. I had trained well during the year. In the weeks leading up to the event I did a few training day rides of between 80 and 140km to increase my endurance. It was an important milestone for me. I put a lot of time and effort into preparing for it.
The big appeal for me was that I shared the route with thousands of riders. Sometimes I was able to “draft” behind people. This helps conserve energy by riding in their slipstream. On other occasions people got the same benefit by riding behind me. The ride was supported all the way by friendly and helpful volunteers. There were rest stops every 25km.
Pacing myself was a challenge. The ride also had some notable challenges such as hills in Frankston and Mount Martha. Every time I stopped when heading back to Melbourne I would notice how sore my legs were. But reaching the finish at Melbourne’s Alexandra Gardens alongside other cyclists was a great climax. All the hard work had been worth it.
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