You could ride for sport, for transport or to save the Earth. But you don’t need a reason – do it because it’s fun.
Put on your new reflective snap band (and your helmet of course) and go for a ride. If you don’t have a bike, borrow your mate’s or use a scooter, skateboard or roller blades.
Whatever it is get rolling around your neighbourhood, pop a wheelie and feel the wind in your head.
Our surrounding hills, forests and dirt tracks cater for all styles of off-road cycling. A leisurely ride around the country side or mad adrenaline rush? You choose. We live among the best Mountain Biking country in the world.
The top of the South has a proud history in sport cycling, regularly producing New Zealand champions. The clubs across the district offer competition road and track cycling as well as active social events.
Did you know more people, per capita, ride to work in Nelson than anywhere else in the country? Our baseline survey shows 8.2 per cent of people in Nelson usually ride to work or school. Tasman is close behind with 7.7 per cent, compared to 6.6 per cent in Marlborough.
Nelson is also the first district in the country to trial school-based cycle trains – one adult conductor cycles along an agreed route, collecting children and cycling with them to school.
Be aware. Be defensive. Be predictable. Be visible. Night riding calls for lights, reflectors and bright clothing. Remember that road and traffic regulations apply to bicycles. And always wear a helmet (it’s required by law)! Look for one with a seal of approval from the relevant Cycle Helmet Safety Standard. The helmet should have a hard shell and a foam liner, and feel snug and comfortable
If you’re a real beginner, take it easy! Avoid big hills at first. Severe breathlessness or tired and sore legs means you’re building up too quickly. Three or four rides a week – of 15 or 20 minutes each time – are enough to begin with.
Mountain bikes are particularly popular, but there are also road or racing bikes to choose from. If you’re in the market for a new bicycle, pick one that suits both your wallet as well as your needs. The popular trend in bikes may not match your type of riding, so be sure to get a bike that is right for you.
A good bicycle shop will help you get the right setup. The handlebars, seat and other parts can be adjusted to make your ride comfortable. Seat position is particularly important.
Make sure the seat is horizontal (to minimise stress on the lower back) and at a height that allows a slight bend in your knee when the leg is extended.
Sit so your weight is evenly distributed over the seat, handlebars and pedals. Pedal at a comfortable and steady speed, changing gears to adjust to hills, wind conditions and your level of fitness (and fatigue).
If you want to ride for fitness, you’ll need to ride further.
The best way to increase your distance is slowly, gradually, patiently. As in other sports, training plans can help you improve your technique. But as you progress, don’t lose sight of the simplicity and freedom of cycling. If you want to ride in the company of others, inquire at your local bike shop or sports trust about cycling clubs in your area. The enthusiasm and energy of a group can add much to your riding experience.
If you move on to touring, ease into it. Start with five kilometres for a while, then 10 and so on. It could be months before you’re ready for the longer rides. Your legs need to grow ‘cycling fit’, and you have to get used to the bike seat for longer periods. Take it a step at a time. Enjoy the outing and the day. Several New Zealand companies arrange cycling tours of European countries – something to aim for!
In addition to providing health benefits, cycle commuting saves fuel and parking costs, and wear and tear on your car. If you have a considerable distance to travel, you could get a bike rack for the car and do a drive-ride combination. Look for quieter safer routes if traffic is a concern.
The bicycle offers big environmental benefits, especially when replacing short car trips.