As we leave the saddle (or sofa) at the end of the Tour De France: basking in that rare sense of national pride from witnessing another British triumph in both Chris Froome and newbie Simon Yates’ Yellow and White jersey wins, there’s not really been a better time for me to be able to display my joy for cycling and to write about why it is the best lifestyle and sport to take up or be part of.
Initially, it’s relatively accessible.
‘The fat lad at the back’ might be a phrase that sounds a bit aggressive to those outside of cycling lingo but it’s actually also a bit of a beautiful acknowledgement towards the scope of physicalities and levels of fitness of those who enjoy the sport. Unlike running or swimming, where your bones grind against the ground or the aerobic cardio makes you leave the pool in a layer of sweat as opposed to chlorine; cycling is a low-impact exercise and only need be as strenuous or technical as you wish to make it, meaning it’s accessible to begin with.
The geek-out opportunities
From it’s accessible first steps however, there are ample opportunities to go down a rabbit-hole; primarily but not exclusively through diet and technology. As the home of the sport in the UK, British Cycling and the comparative sport more broadly have made a point to ensure that their professionals only use equipment that is accessible to the public. British Cycling in particular pride themselves on using (with some minor modifications) the same tech and bikes that can be bought in any big cycling store in the UK. So if you want data, it is there in abundance. From Strava to on-bike monitors that can figure out everything you ever need to know about your performance (and so much more) there is a chance for geek-out cycling talk with your new mates as you flick through your new cycling magazines. Which leads us on…
There’s hundreds of cycling clubs in the UK, endless magazines and even a fair few cycling-orientated cafes. There’s no other sport that can allow you to meet quite so many people from as varied a set of places, occupations and backgrounds. Whether you’re just grabbing a coffee and reading the latest issue of your favourite cycling issue, joining people on a causal ride or attending a member’s night, there’s hosts of people to meet.
Finally, there are the views you can find and experience when cycling. A massive perk that cycling has over many sports is that you can cover relatively great distances and utilize roads. Whilst it might be physically possible to spend a week running along the French alps or a day climbing Mont Blanc, do you really intend to? And would you enjoy it half as much as if you were on a bike? Especially on the descent.
Nottingham’s Cycling Scene
As with all sports, the university is pretty on point with giving opportunities to students in cycling. UoN has its own British cycling registered club which is accessible for beginners and beyond. (https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/club/profile/3286/university-of-nottingham-scc) If you don’t want to be in the student community then there’s another twenty clubs within a 10km radius of campus also.
Cycling around Nottingham offers a good variety of surfaces and routes to ride. The council have made the point of encouraging cycling around the city center by making a cycling route from Lenton and Dunkirk into the city via Castle Boulevard. This route is flat and car-free making it perfect for some casual exercise or to get used to using the thin tires of a road bike (or that first ride without stabilizers, for those who are truly beginners). Progressing from that, circuits around UP Campus and the Catering Halls can present a perfect mixture of flats, climbs and descents. A route that starts near QMC, goes through north entrance, through the campus as far as Beeston and then back around West Entrance, via the Tennis Centre is a great four mile route that can be used as a lap. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even take a slight detour and climb up the downs.