Gearing up for summer cycling with UK walking and cycling charity Sustrans
Summer is the perfect time to get back in the saddle and make the most of the long evenings out cycling with the whole family.
Not only is cycling a fun way to explore new places, it also has many health benefits.
Katie Aartse-Tuyn, who works in the Behaviour Change team at Sustrans and is a keen cyclist, said: €œCycling burns calories, gets your heart pumping and tones your legs, stomach, buttock and abs.
€œTravelling on a bike can lift your mood, put a smile on your face and improve your general health and wellbeing.
€œIt can also help to keep weight off - moderate pedal-pushing burns up to 500 calories per hour. A 20-minute bike ride could use the same amount of calories as a cappuccino, a bar of chocolate or a 175ml glass of wine.
€œFor children, cycling is a great way to start a healthy habit that will last a lifetime, builds their confidence and is often their first experience of independence.€
Sustrans, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017, is the pioneer and guardian of the National Cycle Network - a series of safe, traffic-free paths and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes that connect to every major town and city.
The Network passes within a mile of half of all UK homes across the length and breadth of the UK.
With thousands of miles of traffic-free routes, the Network is the ideal starting point for planning family rides.
For some people, a leisurely family ride can provide motivation to start using a bike for everyday journeys.
Katie said: €œWhen you have got back your balance and want to get on the road the best thing to do is find a route you feel comfortable with and remember you can always get off and walk up the hills, or push your bike on the pavement if there is a section you don't yet feel confident cycling on.
€œCycle training is by far one of the best ways to boost your confidence on two wheels. Whether you're getting on a bike for the first time or a regular cyclist looking to improve your skills on busy roads, instructors provide expert personalised tuition to suit your individual abilities and goals.
€œOnce you know the basics of road cycling, you can start to enjoy using a bike for everyday journeys to work, school or to visit friends. You could even ask a colleague or friend who cycles if they could help find a route that works for you.€
For those people who already own a bike, making sure it is in good working order before a ride is essential. A step-by-step guide can be found on our website: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-you-can-do/cycling/your-bike/bicycle-maintenance-made-easy/m-check-your-bike-11-steps
For anyone thinking about buying a new bike, there are a few things to think about.
€œThe first question you need to answer is when do you want to use your bike and where do you want it to take you,€ said Katie.
€œYour bike should complement your lifestyle so choose the type which reflects the majority of journeys you want to make for a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.
€œWhatever bike you decide to go for, make sure you try out different styles and sizes, and you get professional advice on setting up the bike to ensure a good fit.€