From the archive: Cycling to stay active brings benefits for all

This article was published in 2022, in Magazine 154.

How to keep on cycling when…

An abridged version of the article published in Magazine 141 (Winter 2018/19), our first quarterly issue. Since the article was written, Kirsty continues to cycle with her young children in another city and Roxanne has started to discover a life without chronic pain.

… you’re 8 months’ pregnant

I’ve been cycling all the way through this pregnancy. I’d say that I am a fairly average Cambridge cyclist; I commute to work about three miles across Cambridge on a hybrid bike and a few times a week I cycle my toddler to activities around the city in the cargo bike. It has been an easy decision to keep cycling – it’s still the most convenient way to get around Cambridge and I find it much easier than walking. Some fairly typical pregnancy pelvic pain means a ten-minute walk to the shops is more than enough at the moment but cycling tends even to ease the pain so I can get much further. I’m no expert but that tends to be the advice during pregnancy – keep going with your usual activities but if it’s starting to hurt, do take advice.

Kirsty Thomas

… you’re getting older

Retirement is a great time to take up cycling for pleasure and the members of the U3A Cycling Club are fine demonstrators of the health benefits of doing so. Many of us are well into our 70s or even 80s, but that doesn’t stop us enjoying this form of fresh air, exercise and company. A surprising number who join the club with cumbersome, old shopping bikes are inspired to invest in new bikes. We do tend to be fair-weather cyclists, so rain, strong winds and ice see rides cancelled, but Cambridge is lucky in its climate and even in the winter there are usually plenty of fair days.

Cambridge is an excellent cycling centre for other reasons: gradients are kind, it is small enough to get out into the countryside very easily, and there are plenty of trains going north, south and east to extend our range.

Two of the most popular activities are twice-yearly parties and short summer breaks away from Cambridge – often taking advantage of Sustrans’ excellent long-distance routes. Cyclists are very good at socialising, something also demonstrated by the leisurely refreshment breaks that each ride includes. Beth Morgan

Beth Morgan

… you suffer from chronic pain

For the last ten years, I have lived with almost constant discomfort, leading up to what can at times be quite severe pain and sometimes being practically unable to move. It wasn’t until I moved to Cambridge that things started to improve. This was the first time that I encountered the upright style of cycling. It’s so normal here, but until recently you would never have seen a Dutch-style, sit-up-and-beg type of bicycle in Australia. I decided that trying one of these bikes, and taking it slow, just might be possible for me. And it was! Amazingly, I could cycle further than I had in such a long time without pain. I even used my Dutch bike to tour around the Netherlands, easily cycling more than 50km a day.
For those who think that cycling is only for the fit and able, I say ‘please think again’. Cycling is often one of the few enablers for those of us who are not so fit and able. For those who think cycling isn’t for them, I ask that you have another go. Try a new style of bike and play around with the fit, the handlebars and the saddle. The difference that can be made to your riding comfort is significant. Every day I am so grateful to live in a place where everyday cycling is possible, and it is one of the main reasons I am so motivated to help others have the same freedom of movement through cycling.

Roxanne De Beaux