Ever since I hired a bike in the autumn of second year, I’ve become a sort of ‘bike-evangelist’ – enthusiastically detailing the many advantages of cycling to anyone who would listen. You’d be surprised how many situations you can shove a bike into. Evidently, my cycling enthusiasm just can’t be quenched and so I’m going to share some of the reasons why you should try cycling too.
Exercise and expenses
You can hardly deny the health benefits of cycling, such as increased leg strength, stamina and circulation. However, have you considered how cycling might improve the health of your finances? By cycling often, you could save £5-15 on bus fares each week. This is especially true if you’re in a city that has multiple bus operators, each with a different fare.
Being a healthy student does wonders to your academic ability and mental health. It can be difficult to find the time to do enough exercise – 30 minutes a day is recommended by the NHS. Cycling to and from university can be quicker than buses (especially if they tend to be late) and is less passive – before you know it you’ve already done your day’s exercise.
Don’t be put off by the initially high cost of cycling, it most certainly is worth it. A good second-hand bike, whether rented or bought, can last for years to come. An increasing number of cities are adopting cycle hire schemes, such as Santander Bikes. London, Swansea and Manchester are but to name a few.
Universities frequently help students subsidise the cost of bike acquisition and maintenance by arranging student discounts at nearby bike shops. Every month, my university organises a bike stall for advice, repairs and replacements for free or for a small cost. Halls of residence may provide secure bike shelters and racks (sometimes a deposit is required for a key). For private housing, you may have to keep the house indoors because bike sheds aren’t typically provided.
There aren’t many better ways to explore your university town than by bicycle. For starters, you can take all the routes the buses and cars can’t, whilst being able to traverse them faster than a pedestrian would.
When I went cycling around areas of Stoke-on-Trent, I came across a splendid canal path and a quaint canal museum. It just so happened that I cycled there the day before its family canal festival. The Potteries are a collection of towns and cities located across North Staffordshire (including Stoke). They have a rich history of ceramics and pottery manufacturing.
The canals have played a key part in the transport of the raw materials and produce associated with these industries. Being able to explore the canal paths by bike helped me appreciate the pride the residents of the Potteries took in keeping their ceramics industries and history alive.
Sure, I could have walked the canal paths and locks by foot, but then I would have missed out on the constant adrenaline-charged paranoia you get when you’re trying desperately not to cycle INTO a canal. There’s nothing to make a bike ride more exhilarating than deciding which you should save first from the water – yourself or the expensive rental bike (which needs to be returned in two days, no less).
From my experience I’ve found cycling really rather fun – the range of activities you can get up to whilst wheeling around is endless. Sight-seeing, listening to music, racing friends, solitary contemplation, and charity bike rides are only a small selection of interests you can undertake on the saddle. Your university probably has a student cycling club, so there’s a chance to make new friends through a shared hobby. A survey from Edinburgh University suggests that as many as 12% of students cycle, with other universities having as high as 50% so you won’t be alone.
It’s not just road cycling that can be fun, but off-road and mountain biking too. Areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks offer great opportunities to ascend hills and cross vast stretches of land uninterrupted by cars, junctions and the like.
Whatever you want to get out of cycling, and whatever you use it for, just make sure you enjoy it regularly. In no time, you too will annoy your friends with endless tales of life on the saddle…
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