Cycling; here’s what you should know

What, When, How

The popularity of cycling, whether for leisure or means of transportation, cannot be denied. Since bicycles were introduced in the 19th century people have increasingly taken to it. Competitive racing with bicycles certainly stands among the most popular sports of our time. You’ve probably heard of the Tour de France, the world’s most notable cycling sport which began in 1903.

Interestingly, there are different kinds of cycling with each one having a corresponding type of bicycle. Road cycling as the name implies involves racing on the smooth tarmac of roads, while mountain biking involves riding off-roads on rough terrain. Read more on the benefits and key points to keep in mind before you start this sport.

It’s Great For You

As one can imagine, the health benefits of cycling are numerous. From physical benefits like improved heart health, muscle strength and flexibility, to psychological benefits like decreased stress levels, reduced anxiety and depression, cycling has proven to be one of the best forms of exercise. It is also easy to do and low impact, making it great for people of all ages. Plus, it has the added benefits of being fun, cheap and great for the environment, so what’s not to love?

Before You Start Pedalling

You’re probably in a hurry to start keeping fit, gaining mental clarity and saving the planet, but before you start pedalling away, here are a few important things to note as a beginner or professional;

  • Choose the Right Bike: This may sound as simple as walking into a store and buying the first bicycle that catches your eye, but it is a little more intricate than that. Buying the right bicycle can make or mar your riding experience. Your cycling goals, the bike fit and your budget are all important factors to consider when choosing a bicycle. Your local bike shop can and should give you the guidance you need to make the right decision. Just like when buying a car, you should also test ride a bicycle before you make a purchase; it’s the best way to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Regular maintenance is also very important. You can visit your mechanic from time to time to ensure all is in order, but simple actions like cleaning your chain and keeping the right amount of air in your tires make your rides smoother and prolong the life of your bike.
  • Cycling Gear: Getting the right gear is important as it ensures safety and minimizes damage in case of falls or accidents. A helmet is top priority and should never be omitted. Other components of your cycling kit include a jersey, padded shorts, socks and shoes. You want to get gear that is comfortable, breathable and protective. As with choosing the right bike, do your research and consult with your local bike shop to find out what works best for you. You should also include a few tools like a mini pump, tire levers, spare tubes, a multi-tool, etc. as these will come in handy as you ride.
  • Obey Road/Traffic Rules: If you’re riding on roads, it is your responsibility to be aware of road and traffic rules so you don't pose a danger to yourself and others. Which side of the road should you be on? Are there bike lanes? Restrictions on certain roads? Make sure you familiarize yourself with, and obey all rules. Learn the proper hand signals and always indicate when you’re taking a turn. Give way even if it's your right; you’re the smallest vehicle on the road and likely to be more impacted than bigger vehicles in case of a clash. Different cities have different rules for cycling, so even if you’re a professional cyclist, always ask for the rules when in a new city. In Dubai, for instance, double seat riding is prohibited, reflexive vests are compulsory if riding within the city and your bike must be fitted with appropriate front and rear lights.
  • Be Safe: When cycling, it is advisable not to wear headphones or earbuds so you can be fully aware of your environment. Always carry your phone, identification, and some money in case of emergencies. Water is also a good thing to bring along and on longer rides, bring some snacks/food. To protect against theft, make sure you park in a parking lot, with a lock on your bicycle.
  • Ride with a Group: You can certainly ride alone if that’s your preference, but riding in a group takes the experience to a whole new level. Not only is it a fun group activity, it’s also an added layer of security, as there is safety in numbers.
  • Enjoy yourself: Yes, cycling can be exercise and a serious sport but it is also a lot of fun. Take in your surroundings as you pedal along, breathe deeply, clear your mind. Also, pace yourself. If you’re just starting out, begin with short distances and smooth, easy terrain. Over time, you will get more comfortable and confident.
  • Best Cycling Paths in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

    Some notable cycling tracks and paths in Dubai are the Al Qudra Cycling Path, Nad Al Sheba Cycling Park and the Dubai Autodrome.

    In Abu Dhabi, the Al Wathba Cycle Track, Qasr Al Sarab Dune Cycling and Al Hudayriat Island

    Cycle Track are among the most popular. Some of these parks have specific open days/times, so make sure to check them out online before you visit. Don’t forget to share this article with your parents, kids, or even friends to enjoy a sweet ride with your beloved ones.

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    Dania Nwizu is a creative entrepreneur based in Lagos, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing, telling food stories and walking on water.

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