Did you know that 'Cycle to Work Day' is happening on 5 August?
Cycling is for absolutely everyone and is a great way for you to sustain your mental health and wellbeing, enjoy a fun activity outdoors and keep fit. One of the ways you can do this is by cycling to work. It doesn't matter if you haven't cycled in years or have never cycled at all. This is just about giving it a go.
To highlight the importance of cycling and to give you some tip tips we spoke to our Chief Finance Officer, Zainab Arian who is an avid cyclist. She talks about the benefits of cycling, why she does it, and what you need to get started.
When/why did you start cycling?
I started cycling around 2016, after a friend from work suggested that it was a great way to get back into exercise following having children. When I first started, I was an on-off cyclist up until the start of the pandemic. During the pandemic, I started cycling more and began enjoying the quiet roads. I have continued cycling since and now regularly cycle about five to six times a week. I'd say that it has provided me with some space away from the demands of the kids, family, and work.
What are the benefits of cycling to you?
Cycling has given me some time to myself and has helped me with my overall fitness, physical and mental health plus it has opened my social circle. I was amazed at the number of women who cycle especially from BAME backgrounds, something which I was never exposed to growing up. What stopped me from taking up cycling sooner was not seeing enough representation of people who looked like me on bikes. Cycling has definitely helped me cope with my change in lifestyle throughout the pandemic.
Do you need any specific training?
You don't need specific training to ride a bike. Obviously, you will need to learn how to balance and pedal at the same time. It does help riding with others who are more experienced especially if it's your first-time riding on the road. This is just so you can start to see how to position yourself in traffic at junctions.
The more you ride on the road the more confident you become. I have started to look at improving my ability on my bike and this does require some specific training, but that's part of the fun. You can start to progress and train for certain types of riding, and the cycling community is extremely friendly! There is a lot of resources online and locally available (bike shops, your local cycling group) that will help you take the next step.
What gear do you need to wear?
Wearing a helmet is a must! Apart from that, you can wear whatever you are comfortable in. There are ladies I know who have cycled on road bikes in full abayas (Islamic dress). I personally wear tracksuit bottoms, a long sports top, and a cycling jersey, plus a sports hijab. For shoes, again you can wear anything even flip-flops! But I wear cycling shoes as they give me more control on the bike.
Do you get hot and sweaty? What considerations do you have to make in terms of cycling to work?
Yes, you can get hot and sweaty, depending on how fast you cycle, but if you take your time and ride at a leisurely pace, you don't break a sweat at all. In terms of riding to work, my suggestion would be to bring your work clothes with you and change at work. It will make it a lot more comfortable riding into work without having to worry about getting your outfit dirty.
To anyone considering getting into riding, what would you say to them?
Go for it, the sense of freedom I get when riding my bike is amazing. Once you start you will wonder why it's taken you so long. You will get to explore your local area and beyond, seeing things you would miss out on if you were travelling by car. Riding a bike is for everyone, you don't need to be dressed in head-to-toe lycra to fit in. There is a whole community of cyclists that look like ordinary people on a bike! Having said that if you do like a bit of lycra you can't go wrong joining the two-wheel club!