Cycling is a fantastic way to get around, keep fit and build exercise into your daily routine while using an environmentally friendly form of transport. There is no need to pack your bike away for the autumn or winter months, either.
As well as being fun and free, cycling can also lower your blood pressure and resting heart rate, while offering significant mental health benefits such as reducing stress and combating depression. It is for these reasons that Ealing Council provides a range of support to cyclists to help them keep pedalling.
Indeed, there are plenty of workshops, riding groups and training sessions available around the borough.
‘IT CAN BE A LOVELY SOCIAL EXPERIENCE’
For example, the council works closely with the Breeze group for west London. It is part of the national Breeze programme, which is sponsored by HSBC and aims to encourage more women to cycle regardless of age and experience. Its local champions, who are volunteers trained by British Cycling, organise weekend and weekday rides in the area.
Ealing’s Breeze champion Helen Hayes said: “It’s important to stay active even during the cooler months and cycling is not only good for you but can also be a lovely social experience, which is a big draw card for a lot of the women who join us.
“Our rides are usually at a leisurely pace on quiet roads and paths such as along the canal and through parks so that everyone has a chance to chat and see some beautiful parts of the borough.
“Motivations vary: From wanting to learn the skills, to making cycling to school a family activity; or even just regular cyclists wanting to meet other women and enjoy leisurely rides. But a lot of it comes down to confidence-building and if you haven’t been on a bike for a while it’s a good way of getting some practice.”
FREE TRAINING – AND BIKE CHECKS
The council has got training covered for you too. So, do not fear if you have not cycled for years, or are a total novice, or just want to feel more confident cycling in colder conditions.
Council leader Julian Bell said: “Anyone living or working in the borough is eligible for free one-to-one training with our specialist trainers. It offers tailored help to cyclists of all abilities – from beginners upwards.
“Meanwhile, to help cyclists feel safe and confident, the council’s bicycle support team regularly runs bike health check sessions called Dr Bike. At these you can get your tyre pressure, brakes and gears all checked for free. Advice is also offered on things from finding the correct sitting position, pumping up tyres through to diagnosing serious mechanical problems.
“Cycling and other forms of sustainable travel are so important for our borough’s future. As well as being good for you, every journey you can swap your car for a bike is good for the air we all breathe.”
WHY CYCLING IS GOOD FOR YOU
- Even along flat ground cycling burns 400 calories in one hour
- It improves your strength, stamina and cardio-vascular fitness
- It helps shed those unwanted pounds. A cycle ride increases calorie consumption and raises the metabolic rate, which can help to lose weight
- It reduces stress and can help to lift your mood.
SIMPLE TIPS FOR COLD WEATHER CYCLING
- Check your tyres and brakes regularly (and use the free Dr Bike maintenance sessions around the borough – see more at www.ealing.gov.uk/cycling)
- Wear brightly coloured, reflective clothing, use lights on your bike and position yourself on the road to be visible to traffic
- If you buy waterproof trousers and jacket you can keep pedalling, regardless of the weather.