Cycling is now the third most popular recreational activity in the UK.
Not just that, but with the expanding range of bikes, clothing and accessories, there are products to fit every person’s preference, meaning there really is no better time to get into cycling.
Amateur cyclist Kirsten Ross is a first year, studying architecture at Herriot Watt University. As she says, it is the freedom and relaxation cycling brings that has drawn her to it.
She explains: “When I’m home I try to cycle three to four times a week, mostly to get outside, relax and to stay fit.” These are three of the most popular reasons people get into cycling, and cycling does certainly bring with it these benefits.
Cycling is one of the best ways to fit exercise into your daily routine as it doubles up as a form of transport.
It is also a low-impact exercise, so workouts are less straining on your joints than running or other types of intense aerobics, but it still helps you get into shape.
If you weigh 12st alb, you will burn more than 650 calories with an hour’s riding and tone your legs and bum in the process.
If you ride up hills or off road, you’ll also work your upper body in a way you couldn’t in the gym.
Gavin Shuttleworth is an engineer student at the University of Strathclyde.
His cycling hobby has turned serious over the past few years, with competitive road racing proving successful for him.
He says: “I got into cycling because of my dad and my brother.
“Every year we would watch the Tour de France on TV, and that’s what got me hooked.
“I started beating my brother and dad. I started taking it more seriously.
“I began racing and got selected to ride for Scotland at under-16 level. At this point it sort of became more than a hobby.
“Now I’m in my first year as a senior rider and I train nearly every day for four or five hours.”
Gavin’s passion for the sport is inspirational to a lazy student like me.
If you want to get into cycling, it can be hard to know what type of bike to go for.
Leisure bikes are good for short rides around town, and can start at around £50 for more basic models, and are ideal for novices.
More advanced bikes can go into the hundreds for their streamlined models and light aluminium frames.
Gadget 1: Bike Spokelit
At £7.99, these inexpensive LEDs add an invaluable amount of visibility to the side of your bike, meaning you’re more likely to be seen by passing motorists, increasing the safety of your ride.
The lights fit on to most standard spokes in the common three cross pattern, and come in a range of colours, including a colour changing ‘disco’ light.
Gadget 2: IceDOT Crash Sensor
This sensor adds a cutting edge feature to any helmet by sending a message to emergency contacts in the event of an accident.
It works by pairing with the Bluetooth on your phone. After detecting a high impact collision the sensor sends a message to those closest to you in case you’ve been hurt.
It costs £139.99 and will mount onto most helmets and can pair with iPhone 4S and above. An Android 4.3 version is in development.
Gadget 3: Scosche BoomBottle
A Bluetooth speaker that was made specifically for outdoor activity, it fits snuggly into a bike’s water bottle cage, and is IPX4 splash proof.
The boomBottle also has a built-in microphone, so it can work as a speakerphone.
As well as this, the rechargeable lithium battery offers 10 hours of use. It comes in blue, green, pink, grey and yellow.
Oh, and it costs £119.99.
Spotlight: Soul Cycles
Bikes with Soul. Soul Cycles is one of Edinburgh’s largest, independent bike shops run by a team of expert bike mechanics ready to help you find your perfect second-hand or affordable ride.
Our customers like our chilled, friendly approach to selling bikes and we usually have a healthy stock of rides to suit all tastes, from old school, vintage style bikes, to the more contemporary city hybrids.
We pride ourselves on giving used bicycles a second chance! All our pre-loved cycles are fully serviced and come with a 3 month warranty because it’s cool to recycle a bicycle! For the eco-conscious, buying one of our second hand bikes you are effectively saving one from being scrapped and the environmental impact of another being manufactured.
We have great bikes for every budget and can help Edinburgh Students maintain their bikes while they are in town and buy them back when they move on.
Visit us on Brougham Place just off the Meadows to check out used bikes that don’t cost the earth.