Is 2021 the Year of the Bike?
Guest post by Josiah Skeats
Other than the price of Amazon shares, perhaps the next biggest winner of 2020 is the bicycle. As the UK plunged into lockdown, we witnessed a cycling revival as people clung to some remnants of their former freedom. As more people reclaimed the streets and singletracks for their daily burst of exercise, they chanced upon a secret that us cyclists have known for a while. Bikes are great!
If you're considering cycling more this year, here's 7 reasons why you should!
Improves your Physical Health
A list of the health benefits of cycling is too long to record here and would anyway appear too good to be true.
Quite simply, cycling is a low impact exercise that promotes fat loss and muscle growth. It is a cardiovascular workout so improves heart and lung function and reduces the risks of heart disease and cancer.
If that wasn't enough, cycling also...
Improves your Mental Health
Combining exercise and being outside creates a cocktail of transformative mental health benefits.
Studies have shown cycling reduces stress, increases self-confidence, grants better quality sleep and counterintuitively, leaves you more energised than you started!
Discover a Community
There is a common misconception that cycling is a solo pursuit. Getting on a bike is a sure way to tap into a welcoming community. You'll find no shortage of new friends to ride with.
On the roads, expect some friendly competition as you fight to stay on the back wheel of your buddy or crest the hill first. It isn't a suffer-fest though, and there'll be many moments of camaraderie and stimulating conversation.
On the mountain trails, you'll spur each other onto gnarlier lines, celebrating each other's triumphs and immortalising their wipeouts. Again, a friendly rivalry exists alongside a deeper togetherness.
These social benefits don't end with the bike. Any ride not washed down with generous servings of coffee or beer is arguably only half-finished.
See your Neighbourhood with Fresh Eyes
Cars and bikes don't mix too well. Most of those roads you whiz along in the car in a frantic dash from A to B are precisely the roads you'll avoid as a cyclist.
Instead, you'll seek out twisting country lanes and bridleways or tracks through woodland. This gives bike travel, even on your doorstep, a sense of exploration as you discover places and viewpoints you didn't know existed.
This is helped further because...
Cycling is the Perfect Speed to Travel
Cycling exists in that Goldilocks-middle between the too-fast pace of driving and the too-slow pace of walking.
Beginner cyclists are often surprised by how much distance they can cover - you can even cycle around the world! - yet you are fully immersed in the environment with your senses alive to the carousel of daily life. You notice the hills and dips, hear the birds, feel the wind on your skin and smell the whiff of flowers, baking bread and roadkill.
Cycling is Environmentally-Friendly
Data from the Office of National Statistics show 38% of journeys in Britain are under 2 miles (3 kilometres) and 66% are under 5 miles (8 kilometres). Some of these journeys demand a car - to transport heavy loads or children, for example - but choosing the bike more often would slash our carbon emissions.
Lastly, because it's fun!
Even on a rainy commute, I can't climb onto my bike without a smile flickering across my lips. I remember savouring the view atop mountain passes I've just slogged to the top of, then the thrill of hurtling down the other side. I recall flowing over jumps and around berms, travelling along unfamiliar backroads, digging deep into relentless headwinds and gliding effortlessly, as though on ice.
These simple moments represent the true joy of cycling and are reason enough to embrace it in 2021.