Spring is here, meaning longer days and (hopefully) better weather. So if your bike has been locked away for the winter, or if you haven’t ridden a bike for years, then now is the best time to dust off your wheels and get back pedalling again.
Not sure whether cycling is for you? Then hopefully our answers below to some of the more common cycling myths will convince you.
Beginning to cycle
Unsure where to start and need a little help to get rolling? Then visit our new Cycling for Beginners pages, which offer a wealth of information from choosing a new bike, getting it set up correctly and tips on safe riding.
Returning to cycling after winter
Not seen your bike since you put it away after the summer and still covered in last year’s mud? Now is the time to give it a new lease of life by getting it clean and ready to ride.
This straightforward video shows just how easy it is to clean your bike.
For advice on getting your bike running perfectly and checking that it is safe to ride, visit our bike maintenance page.
When asked what stops you cycling or cycling more regularly, we can all think of reasons why it is not possible. We look at some of the more common reasons and try to show that making cycling a bigger part of your regular routine is not as hard as you may think.
It is too dangerous to cycle
Like any activity, cycling has risks, but it is estimated that the number of life years gained due to the health and fitness benefits of cycling in Britain outweigh the life-years lost through injuries by a factor of around 20:1. The risks involved in cycling, walking or driving are actually all broadly comparable, but the risks from inactivity are far higher.
Coronary heart disease kills 75,000 people per year in the UK and The British Heart Foundation reckons that one-in-ten of these deaths (7,500) is attributable to physical inactivity. That makes it far more dangerous in the long term NOT to be a cyclist.
You must be fit
While cycling will make you fit in the long run, you don’t need to be to start with. Cycling takes a third of the energy that it would take to walk the same distance and is an extremely efficient way of travelling. The myth that cycling is hard may stem from riding cheap bikes that are not set up correctly or from riding in the wrong gear. A good quality bike, set up correctly for you and well-maintained should be easy to ride.
Cycling makes you sweaty
Certainly this can be true if you want to ride hard and fast, but if you live within a few miles of your destination and you don’t have to climb lots of steep hills, then taking a little more time and pedalling in a more leisurely fashion (think of it more like walking than jogging or running) then you will arrive sweat-free. Also, make sure not to wear more layers of clothing than you need.
Bikes are expensive
Whilst the general rule of thumb when buying a brand-new bike is, the more you pay, the better the bike, a good-quality new adult bike can cost from as little as £200-£250. Spend £500 and you will get a very good bike with great quality, high spec components.
Ask your employer to join a Cycle to Work scheme and save on the price of a new bike. It is also possible to buy a good-quality second hand bike for the fraction of the cost of a new one. Visit our Choosing a Bike page for advice on purchasing a bike.
It is always raining in England
The weather is often the number one reason given for not cycling and sometimes it might feel like it is always wet, but in reality the chances of rain falling during your commute to work is remarkably slim. Rain falls in England roughly on average, across the year, 1 in 3 days. Even then, it is very rare for it to rain for the whole day. On those few occasions it is raining when you are on your bike, lightweight water-proof clothing will mean you can arrive at your destination dry.
It’s too cold to cycle
It is all too easy during those nippy mornings and frosty winter months to keep the bike hidden away in the shed and instead reach for the car keys or take the bus. With the right clothing, however, cycling in the cold can actually be quite enjoyable. Rather than wearing a thick winter coat, layers are the key to comfortable cold weather cycling, that way you can remove a layer if you start to feel too warm. Getting cold hands is often the biggest problem when cycling in the cold, so good gloves are important.
It is too far to cycle to work
While this indeed may be true for some, a good proportion of commutes are less than 3 miles, which even at a fairly sedate pace should take no more than 20 minutes by bike. You may find that a longer commute, which may seem daunting at first, will seem much more trivial the more you ride it.
You need specialist cycling clothes to ride a bike
For the average commute, normal day-to-day clothing is fine as long as you are comfortable and have the freedom to pedal. You may want to consider investing in a jacket or a bag cover with reflective material for riding at night and lightweight waterproofs are useful in case you get caught out by a sudden downpour. That is not to say you shouldn’t consider cycling specific clothing if you want to – there is plenty of good, functional cycling kit on the market that also passes for normal day-to-day wear. The Discerning Cyclist is a great place to start for inspiration.
I don’t have time to cycle to work
Cycling to work can actually save you time! For many urban commutes cycling can be quicker than travelling by car, especially during rush-hour, as you will not be stuck in traffic. Cycle-routes can also often include short-cuts that avoid more circuitous road routes and you won’t have the trouble of looking for a parking space in a busy town-centre car park. Plus, by cycling, you will be getting exercise as you travel, thereby potentially saving you time in going to the gym.
I have to take my laptop/paperwork to work/school with me
A courier bag or a rucksack is ideal for transporting a laptop, plus items, such as waterproofs. For heavier items, you can fit a bike rack and pannier bags to most bikes. There is a great range of stylish looking panniers on the market that are multi-purpose and can be removed and carried when you arrive at your destination.
I get saddle-sore or knee-pain from cycling
Riding a bike shouldn’t be uncomfortable. If you do suffer from any discomfort, it usually means something on the bike needs adjusting. Ensure to get your bike set up correctly for you, otherwise it could put you off cycling entirely. See our Bike Fit section for further advice on what to check for.
Where to cycle
See our Where to Cycle pages for ideas of where to ride your bike this spring. Even if you go out for a ride just once a week or month, you may discover (or rediscover) a love for cycling.
Why not share your own cycling myths? Let us know how you get on cycling this spring by sending your photos and stories via our Twitter and Facebook pages.