This year there has been a huge surge in the amount of interest in cycling and the number of cyclists on Irish roads . There are three contributing factors which have helped to spur this on ;
1 – The Government Cycle to Work initiative – When an average PAYE worker is given the chance to purchase a bike for what may amount to half price on an interest free credit arrangement with his employer it really is a no brainer . With the price of petrol rising all the time and the higher costs of running a second car , or even just one car , an opportunity to commute to work in an enjoyable manner that also improves your fitness is very appealing . These cyclists as their fitness levels rise also tend to head out at weekends with workmates or other friends who have also taken up cycling. A study in England recently noted that the long term economic benefits of the cycle to work scheme include a reduction in traffic volumes and CO2 emissions , and a forecasted significant saving on public healthcare costs as people who cycle regularly are less likely to suffer cardiovascular problems later in life .
2 – Organised leisure cycles – The phenomenal growth in popularity in events such as The Sean Kelly tour and the An Post leisure series shows just how important the non-racing side of cycling is . Most people need something to train for , or a goal to aim at . With the variety of distances at these events all levels of ability are catered for . As parents become involved they bring along their kids and this will bode well for the future of cycling in Ireland .
3 – The success of our Professional cyclists – Not since the great days of Kelly and Roche has the Irish cycling fan-base had so much to cheer about . Nicolas Roche , his cousin Dan Martin and Philip Deignan , along with the An Post Sean Kelly team have really captured the attention of the Irish fans . If success breeds success then it also creates interest amongst the Irish media . To see so much more coverage in the newspapers and on television helps to attract even more people into the sport .
So , all of these new enthusiastic cyclists have been enjoying their cycling so much throughout the summer , what now for the winter ? Well here are a few suggestions that along with commuting might help maintain fitness levels without burning out the enthusiasm before next spring comes along .
1 – Running – A 20 minute run will give a similar workout to 1 hour on the bike . It is also very good for the lungs and improves breathing on the bike .
2- Mountain biking – A great way to improve bike control and get a good workout well away from traffic on icy winter Sunday Mornings .
3- Swimming – A complete body workout indoors which is non impact on the body so much less chance of injury when compared to running .
4- Pilates – A fantastic way to improve your core and thus your climbing etc. on the bike . Also a strong core will eliminate most back pain on the bike .
5- Spin classes – A great way to get a good hard workout once or twice a week . You do see the benefits when back on the bike .
6- Keep riding your bike – Even an hour once per week will keep you in touch before the serious training starts again .