As foreign travel still looks uncertain for many of us this summer, U Perform have decided to do a series of blogs over the next few weeks looking at activities you can do and places you can visit in the United Kingdom to stay fit and active, and have a great summer.
Our first blog last week looked at hiking in the great outdoors… the health & wellness benefits and how to stay safe.
We started with this because quite simply, walking is the most accessible sport in the world. It’s something virtually all of us do every day, anyway, even if it’s simply walking to lunch or to the shops. It requires no special equipment or training… You simply get out there and do it.
However, hiking in the UK comes with a number of potential dangers that you must be aware of and have a plan to ensure your safety. If you haven't checked out last week's blog yet, you can do so by clicking here
So we've looked at walking, but what else can we do right here in the UK on our Summer Staycation. Well... we've got wild swimming, thrill seeking adventures, coastal walks and paddle boarding – we really have got your summer of sport covered! And that’s not even mentioning the fact the Olympics are only a matter of weeks away too!
This week we are talking about… CYCLING. One of our favourite outdoor activities and certainly a favourite of U Perform co-founder Prof. Greg Whyte whom you will often find out on a two wheeled adventure somewhere.
Throughout the coronavirus situation, we have all been encouraged to head outdoors to take daily exercise and it was plain to see that more and more people did so. And did so by bike too! So much so, that since then bike shops and bike manufacturers have been struggling to keep up with the demand.
But why is that? What are the benefits of cycling?
Well… cycling is accessible, fun and low impact form of exercise that you can do by yourself or indeed with your friends or family. Cycling…
- Builds stamina, endurance and strengthens muscles.
- Is environmentally friendly.
- Is one of the most efficient forms of transport.
We’re really not kidding on that last one. And in fact, in terms of energy expenditure, distance and speed travelled, cycling is the most efficient form of human transport.
And the best part is that cycling is a multi-disciplinary sport too with something for everyone:
- Road cycling
- Mountain biking
- Cross Country
And for the more adventurous amongst you, there’s something called ‘Bike Packing’.
With restrictions very much in place for the last 12 months, there wasn’t very many places you could actually go. But that’s all changing now, and if you are starting to get bored of the same old route, then we’re here to help you mix things up a bit and try something new.
But first things first, let’s talk SAFETY!!!
Whether we are on public roads, trails or national cycle networks, safety should always be our number one priority.
Here’s our Top Tips for cycling safety:
- Wear a helmet
This is number one for a reason. When you are out on 2 wheels, accidents can and do happen and wearing a helmet is your primary defence against serious injury should the worst happen whilst you are out riding. Major studies undertaken all over the world have now shown that the use of bicycle helmets reduce the risks of serious head injuries by a staggering 70%.
It doesn’t matter what your helmet looks like, the fit is the most important part. If you are not sure how to check this, then why not head to your local bike shop or ask a more experienced cyclist to help you.
- Know your route
Planning is key! If you know where you are going, you are far more focused on enjoying the ride instead of fretting about getting lost as this is when accidents can happen.
It’s always plan for rest stops too, especially if you are heading out for longer than an hour. These could be at local cafes or just a corner shop in town.
If you are in need of some inspiration for your next ride, why not find your nearest National Cycle Network route. As of July 2020, there were over 12,000 miles of traffic free cycling and pedestrian friendly routes for you to choose from and should you wish, you can cycle from one end of the UK to another and never have to leave the cycle network.
You can check out the website and find out how to use the network by clicking here!
- Tell someone where you are going or go with someone
If you are heading out alone, make sure you let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. This is so someone can be on hand to contact you should you venture a bit far or too long.
There are even apps and devices out there as well that will track your location in real time, giving you the option to share that information with as many people as you like.
- Make sure your bike is in good working order
Look after your bike and your bike will after you is a popular saying in the cycling community and it is 100% true. The last thing you want is to be miles away from home with a bike that just doesn’t want to play ball.
So, just like you would your car, getting your bike regularly checked and serviced (if needed) is a great idea.
Things to look out for are:
- Flat tyres
- Squeaky chain
- Wobbly handlebars
- Frayed cables
- Cracks and dents
If your bike is showing signs of any of these, then it’s definitely time to get it looked at. There are hundreds of thousands of bike maintenance videos on the internet but if you are still not sure or perhaps don’t trust yourself to not do any more damage, then you should definitely book in with your local bike shop and let the experts take care of it.
- Dress appropriately for the weather conditions
There is no such thing as bad weather; only poor equipment just happens to be another popular saying in the cycling community. They have a lot of them in case you were wondering.
This one again is absolutely true. Sports clothing technology has come a long way over the years and the sport of cycling has been at the forefront of its innovation. From aerodynamics, waterproofing and thermal layers, there is now a piece of cycling kit for every occasion.
But, you don’t have to wear tight fitting lycra to be a cyclist. Any comfortable and outdoor suitable clothing will do and as long as you dress for the weather on the day you really can’t go wrong. One of our best pieces of advice is to always take a lightweight, packable rain jacket or ‘rain cape’ as cyclists call them; just in case. You never can trust the Great British weather even on the sunniest of days.
There are so many beautiful places to cycle in the UK… whether that’s a simple bike ride along a river path, on a forest mountain bike trail or through the swooping roads of a valley… or a more challenging ride into the beautiful hills and mountains that we have in this country.
We would love to know where your favourite places to cycle are… share your images and tag us in them @uperformuk.
Have fun exploring our beautiful country… follow our advice and stay safe… and enjoy both the physical and mental health benefits that walking in nature can bring.