Get active: Cycling
Know your limits. Start easy rather than try to climb over the Wicklow Gap on day one
Explain it to me: Why cycling? Cycling takes many forms, from gently ambling about a park to whizzing down Alpine descents in lycra to tearing through muddy forests. But the beauty of it is that everyone knows how to ride a bike. And even if you haven’t done it in 20 years, you never forget.
It’s fantastic for your health, both physical and mental. Being no impact, your knees and hips are protected from the pounding that other activities – such as the dreaded running – subject them to. Even a short bike commute each day will contribute hugely to your overall well-being. And it makes you happy. Fact.
Where do I start: Get on a bike. It’s that simple. As long as it’s safe and the right size and won’t fall apart 100m down the road, any bike will do to start. There’s plenty of time to drool over eye-wateringly expensive carbon machines should you fall in love with cycling. Which, let’s face it, you probably will.
Costs: Once you have a bike, cycling is free. Of course, it’s better and more comfortable with proper equipment. Decent helmets cost from €40 up and are essential. A top tip is to buy the best pair of padded shorts you can afford, and some chamois cream to go with them. Saddle sores are the curse of all cyclists, from rank amateurs to top professionals. And never, no matter how weird you think it is, wear underwear under cycling shorts. Your nether regions will never forgive you.
Top tips: Know your limits. Start easy rather than try to climb over the Wicklow Gap on day one. Cycling is all about endurance, which takes time to build and nurture.
If you get the bug and buy a fancy bike, invest in a professional bike fit. It will prevent all sorts of problems down the line.
Then join a club. While part of the beauty of cycling is the solitude it offers, the knowledge and experience your clubmates can offer is invaluable, as is the motivation being in a club will bring in the dark winter months when spirits are flagging.
Finally, embrace the suffering. For suffer you will. But it’s worth every millisecond of it.