Last year, in the height of another dreaded ‘lockdown’ I did what a lot of guys my age seem to do. I became a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra)! As a kid I loved my BMX but for most of my life, cycling was always a means to an end. I enjoyed cycling to college or work but I never really saw the attraction in cycling for the sake of it.
However, after some encouragement from some long standing MAMIL friends, I took the plunge and got myself a road bike.
One of the first things I learned is that it’s not just about the bike. There is an infinite list of accessories, clothing and safety gear. And then there’s the sophisticated technology devices and apps to be got.
Fast forward 12 months and I am a fully-fledged MAMIL. I even find myself watching late night repeats of the Tour of Flanders on Eurosport to study cadence and climbing.
While I’ve probably missed the boat with the Tour de France, I have learnt that cycling can be for everyone. You’re never too late to start (a bit like a pension!) and it allows for all standards and levels of fitness.
Cycling is something you can do alone or in a group. I have had some of the best conversations with my friends while on the bike (as opposed to on a bar stool). Unlike meeting your friends in the pub, you always remember the conversation!
Mental health has become omnipresent in todays world but I genuinely feel that the greatest benefit cycling has given me is with my mental health.
Exercising in the fresh air has really helped get a good night’s sleep and sets me up for the following day.
If you are considering getting in to cycling, I would recommend the following tips:
- Do your research before you commit to buying a bike. Get advice from a few bike shops to understand what bike you are best suited to and use YouTube to verify.
- Don’t scrimp on the gear. Cycling gear can be expensive but the cheap stuff doesn’t last as long and will not protect you as much as the more established brands. Make a wish list of items you need/want and spread out when you buy them. Make sure to let people know what you want when coming up to Christmas and birthdays!
- Download the Strava App. It’s free and it is a great devise to record your trips. You’ll spend hours after your cycle analysing your data!
- If Road cycling is not for you, consider investing in an e-bike. You’ll still be exercising and can cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time.
If you are fortunate enough to live in Dublin you have one of the best cycling facilities on your doorstep, free of charge! The Dublin mountains are a great challenge to conquer. The rewards you get the higher up you go are well worth the effort. Not only that, once you go over the other side you are immediately in the stunning natural countryside of beautiful county Wicklow.
If you want to take a break from the hills, then a spin out to Howth or around the Phoenix Park are just as impressive.