Regarded as a great form of aerobic exercise, cycling is an activity any one can take up. It’s also the best way to take in the countryside… When it comes to your fitness, it’s time to reinvent the wheel, pun intended! More people are finding cycling a way to boost stamina levels, with some even cycling to work every day. Today, more folks are pedal pushing their way on offbeat tracks and scenic routes around the city. Here’s more on the sport…

It can save the environment
For cycling enthusiasts in the country, the going isn’t easy because of chaotic streets, the poor condition of roads and a lack of dedicated cycling tracks. They hope cycling will become a dedicated sport so that things change. “So often we see a hike in petrol levels, so a cycle is a transport option. We have a lovely sea coast and if they can make a track right from Nariman Point to Borivali, about 100 kms up and down, it might save the environment.

We are actually breathing poison today, owing to the crazy carbon levels and we can reduce the carbon footprint this way,” says Vishal Sharma, of a cycling club in Mumbai. Adds cyclist Dhawal Shah, “Being on wheels is also a nice way to take in the sights. I think more people are opening up to cycling and we must move toward it in an effort for a clean and green environment.”

Warm up before starting
Always do an initial bike check for brakes and check for tire air pressure. Also, clean the reflectors.

Always ride on the correct side of the road
Make sure you always ride on the correct side (left for India/UK and right for US) of the road. Also, do not listen to music while cycling. Do not overtake other cyclists unnecessarily.

Health benefits of cycling
A fun exercise, cycling is said to improves cardiovascular fitness, so there is a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Since pedalling is a lowimpact activity, you can improve muscle tone without stressing your knee and ankle joints. Says orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Vivek Shetty, “Cycling helps build cardiac stamina and strengthens lower limbs.

However, someone with an osteoarthritis knee should get an evaluation done by a doctor before starting to cycle. Also, someone with an injured tissue should not cycle for more than half an hour a day,” he says. Adds orthopaedic specialist and joint replacement surgeon, Dr Nilen Shah, “One can strengthen the muscles of legs through it, tackle osteoarthritis of the knees in the early sages as well as fight obesity.”

Diet dos and don’ts

  • Eating before a ride is advisable, but try to take in food at least two hours prior to setting off. Avoid greasy or fatty food.
  • Remember to eat 10-15 minutes after your ride as well, as this will carry energy to your tired muscles where it is needed the most and can help prevent soreness later on.
  • Longer rides should be followed by a high carbohydrate meal in the late evenings so as to replace the calories burned during the day.

Safety tips
Keep in mind basic techniques and skills while on the road. Here are safety measures to follow… Wear a helmet: One important rule is to wear a helmet while in motion. These can reduce head and face injuries. Ensure that: The reflectors are provided on spokes of wheels, on the pedals and on the front/rear mudguard.

Make sure that both the brakes are working properly. Tire pressure: Always check your tire pressure. Cycling in the rain: On wet roads, there will be friction, so don’t slam on the brakes and expect to halt. Dress brightly: Always don brightcoloured clothing, especially at night or in wet weather.

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