Last Thursday morning I was standing in the shop when an old school friend walked in . He does a lot of running and was in to get a few energy gels . We were chatting or ‘ shooting the breeze ‘ as former Discovery team members would say , when he asked me why cycling seemed to be getting more and more popular . I had to stop and think for a while as to the cause of the surge in cycling popularity at present and here are a few of the reasons that came to me :
1 . Cycling is open to everybody .
Because it is not a team sport , anyone with a half decent bike can hop on the machine outside their door at whatever time suits and head out for a spin . If you are tall or small , thin or addicted to burgers you can still ride a bike . Age is no barrier as the bebo generation can enjoy a cycle just as much as someone who remembers world war 2 , as can anyone in between .
2 . Cycling is good for your health .
People who cycle , in general , enjoy a fitness level of the average person ten years younger . Cycling at least twenty miles per week reduces the risk of heart disease by over 50 % . Unlike running it is low impact , so can be enjoyed long after the knees have begun to shout ‘No’ to any suggestion of going for a run . Cycling just like swimming is a fantastic way to loose weight but how many people can swim to work .
- Cycling is good for your wallet .
In the current climate of soaring petrol and diesel prices and exorbitant parking prices the bike is a fantastic alternative . The running cost of the average family car driver who commutes twenty miles each day to a city centre location now exceeds €2500 . A good commuting bike which may cost between 3 – €400 costs on average €125 per annum to maintain including tyres and brake blocks . Then there is the other side of things where a car enthusiast can rarely afford a Ferrari but an average cycling enthusiast can afford the Ferrari of bikes .
All of the above are great reasons to cycle but for most of us the reason we cycle is because of what I call ‘Floaters’ !
A floater can be one of two things ,
1 – A warm summer day without a cloud in the sky . You walk out the front door in shorts and short sleeves and throw your leg over your freshly cleaned machine . The calm breeze gently cools your face as you head over the Comeraghs towards Bonmahon where you turn right . You then follow the coast all along as far as Ardmore before stopping to eat an ice cream on the sea wall . You head for home and passing through Ballymac decide to turn right and finish the spin with a nice gallop up The Nire . You arrive back at your front door five hours after you left and the legs feel as though you could do it all again . That’s ‘Floater’ number one .
2 – It’s wet and windy in early January . You meet the group coming up from carrick and hear the murmur of a spin down the coast towards Tramore . You dont’ mind as you feel strong . The group slowly diminishes in size from fifty to forty to thirty and finally as you pass through Annstown their are only fifteen left in place . There is a hill up out of the seaside village but there is no time to look at the sea as the clouds darken and Rory throws it up onto the big ring . There follows a brief period of clicks , rattles , grunts and moans before an eery silence descends . The group of fifteen has been reduced to three as you crest the final hill on the coast road . The legs are sore , you’re on your limit but you still manage to roll through and do your turn at the front . Once more you arrive back at your front door feeling OK . You could do another hour but not any more than that . That’s ‘floater’ number 2 and what both of these have in common is that it takes a huge amount of dedicated training to get to that level , but when you do it’s all more than worth it for the sense of satisfaction and the feeling of being super fit that accompanies the occasion .
With the right amount of training any cyclist can experience a ‘floater’ and that’s why cycling is becoming more and more popular all of the time !