Saddle up for the wheel revolution
Advertising feature is association with www.barclays.co.uk
Cycling in this country is on the up and up. It seems that after decades of infatuation with the motor car, the nation is waking up to the magic of cycling and all the benefits it brings, in terms of improving health and reducing traffic congestion.
After the recent triumphs of Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, it seems likely that the state of the nation's cycling will go from strength to strength. The great thing about cycling is that - unlike many sports which exist in their own bubble of activity - it is more than merely a competitive event; it's a transport option and even a lifestyle. Figures suggest that around two million people cycle on a weekly basis, and cyclists - such as last year's BBC Sports Personality of the year Mark Cavendish - are now household names.
There's never been a better time to buy your own bike, with more choice, information and easily accessible expertise than ever before. And if you get hooked, you'll see that cycling technology has come on hugely in recent years, although while there is a bike to suit most pockets, getting something that will stand the test of time is still relatively expensive. So it makes sense to take control of your money by finding the right current account to fit your lifestyle - one which will help you manage your finances and provide greater convenience for any large purchases you need to make.
So, if you like the idea of getting out on two wheels, what are some of the things you should think about?
Getting a bike for commuting is one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. It may have been a patchy summer weather-wise, so you wouldn't have wanted to be out on your bike every day. But having the option of checking the weather report in the morning and being able to take your bike to work can be a wonderful way to start and end the day - changing your perspective on your trundle to work, giving you a health kick and often beating the traffic.
Around £500 will get you a decent bike and relevant accessories - a reasonable outlay, considering you are likely to save this money over a few months on petrol, parking and public transport. For this you can get a reasonable hybrid bike; one that incorporates some of the elements of road and mountain bikes to produce something comfortable for the commute. A hybrid will have the upright position and wide handlebars of a mountain bike - good for control - while using larger, more slender wheels and tyres, so it rolls more easily on the road. In addition, if you are venturing onto gentle off-road tracks, it will be able to handle the looser surfaces and bumps far better than a road bike.
Fit for cycling?
According to NHS Direct, commuting for a relatively short 15-minute journey at each end of the working day would cover the recommended weekly exercise for adults. Doing all this will not only strengthen the cardiovascular system, but it will tone the body - particularly the bottom and legs.
All this is great news, of course. But what about the roads themselves? In recent months The Times has been highlighting the shortcomings of the existing network for cyclists with its ‘Cities fit for cycling' campaign. While it's clear that we simply don't have the decades-long infrastructure that is in place in some European countries, the campaign is also bringing attention to the lack of understanding between cyclists and other road users. It's clear that it will take time to address these issues, but using schemes like the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme will help raise the profile of riders on Britain's roads.
In the meantime, showing consideration - and confidence - when using the roads is the key to protecting yourself. Although there is no legal requirement for wearing a helmet, it is clearly a good idea to do so, while front and rear lights, along with reflectors on wheels and pedals, are mandatory for cycling at night.
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