The decision to take up cycling is one that few people ever regret, but it comes with some surprising and amusing consequences. There are countless reasons for going out and buying your first bike. Improving fitness and weight loss are close to the top of the list for many, but inspiration from professional racing and the simple thrill of the ride are also likely suspects. But what happens when you take up cycling as a serious hobby? If you make a habit of turning the pedals for hours at a time, you’re eventually going to find that all of the following become facts of life.
1. You’ll need new jeans
There are two ways your denim-wearing ability is likely to swing: you’re either going to need to go down a size or hunt around for a different fit to accommodate your newly chiselled hams, sorry, thighs. In fact, if after months of riding your current jeans still fit perfectly, then you’re probably doing the whole cycling thing wrong!
2. “What gradient is this staircase?”
If you regularly ride for many hours, day after day, then you will soon catch yourself emitting involuntary groans as you mount a staircase. Then after a few years, you may forget what it feels like to have fresh legs altogether. But don’t despair! So long as you recover well post-training, aching legs is only a sign of good riding.
3. Leather palms and tan lines
If you pride yourself on hands “as soft as a baby’s bottom”, then you might be wary of the toughened palms that come after an extended period on the bike. It’s an occupational hazard that is pretty much unavoidable. You cannot possibly ride a road bike for any length of time without placing weight on the handlebars. And then there are the slightly daft tan lines that will appear on a keen cyclist’s arms and legs by summer’s end. The crisp t-shirt lines and even white gloves can appear unsightly to the uninformed, but for the seasoned cyclist, a crisp tan is a badge of honour that is to be cultivated.
4. Ride to eat, eat to ride
Undoubtedly one of the best things about taking up cycling is the increased appetite and diminished guilt that come with burning calories. Of course, you shouldn’t just go all out with triple portions and all the cake, unless you’ve been riding literally all day, but you can get away with a bit more guilt-free indulgence. What more reason could you possibly need?
5. You can’t buy happiness, but…
So many of us spend an unprecedented amount of time hunched over screens, large and small, and while some are happy with that existence, the rest of us know that the real recipe for happiness is to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Cycling is clearly the preferred option here, not only because it is better for your body in the long term (runners and their knees…), but also because it is scientifically proven to improve your mood. Exercise prompts the body to produce endorphins which essentially generate happiness. So, you may not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy a bike and science says happiness will come as part of the package.
Hopefully none of the above will have put you off the wonderful sport you have plunged yourself into. These surprising, bizarre and maybe even inconvenient consequences are all part of the fun of cycling and certainly provide a talking point at the mid-ride café stop. All you can do is get stuck in. Spring is here, the days are getting longer and warmer, so it’s very nearly time to start working on those tan lines. Ride safe!