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Inspired by the Tour de France? Then Let’s Get Cycling and celebrate!

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Breaking the habit and jumping back on the bike saddle is often the most difficult step of them all.

You don’t have to be Sir Bradley Wiggins to take to two wheels by any means, but committing to the cause of regular rides come rain or shine is a challenge in itself.

The easiest way to get into the routine is by making cycling your form of everyday transport, which means ditching the car and donning a helmet.

But there are plenty of things to consider before you hit the open road.

First of all you need the gear, but you don’t have to spend a pretty penny to get out there and feel the wind through your hair on some of the world’s best cycling roads.

All it takes is a sense of adventure and a working bicycle and for short journeys any roadworthy bike will do.

Whether that means dusting off your old wheels, which were consigned to the garage long ago, or buying something new or second-hand, a liberating Yorkshire ride is right on your doorstep - you can even rent bikes from city cycle points or park authorities.

But if you’re keen on off-road cycling or like to test yourself on country roads, your two-wheeled companion can reflect the terrain you’re looking to cover.

Everything from high-tech lightweight racers to fold-up commuter cycles and mountain bikes are out there but if you’re buying second-hand, make sure to have it looked over by a specialist bike shop to make sure it is roadworthy.

While warning old bikes should be checked to ensure they are safe from rusting brakes and damaged tyres, John Stainthorpe, sales director at the Cyclesense bike shop, in Thorp Arch, Wetherby, is adamant that cycling doesn’t have to be an expensive past time.

He said: “The feeling you get when you ride a bike is fantastic and that really isn’t expensive to achieve. The wind in your face and hair is amazing and it gets the endorphins going in your body - it’s a cheap way of having a good time.”

Dave Stevens, Yorkshire volunteer coordinator at Sustrans, works with the sustainable transport charity’s 400 regional volunteer trainers, environmental groups and events teams.

He said it was important to start slowly.

“If you watch the Tour de France and realise people can cycle from Leeds to Harrogate via Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales, maybe you can ride to the railway station and back.

“Don’t overface yourself just because you’ve seen Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome doing 100mph and just see how far you can get.

“Increasingly there is a cycling network and we are getting more and more routes suitable for novices and people returning to cycling and more and more of those are on your doorstep.”

As well as the style of cycle, another important thing to consider is the size of your bike frame. Making sure you have at least an inch of clearance from the bike’s frame when you’re feet are on the ground, otherwise stopping in traffic could be an uncomfortable experience.

Once you’ve chosen your wheels, you need to make sure your cycle is set up to suit your body. Your riding position needs to make the most of your leg power, while making sure you can always put a reassuring foot to the ground.

Adjusting your handlebars and saddle to be at a similar height is a good starting point to find the perfect balance between efficient pedalling, comfort and control of the frame.

Now you have your bicycle and it is set up for comfort and control, you need to make sure you’re kitted out for all eventualities.

Every considerate cyclist should equip their bike with a bell, while front and rear lights, mudguards, a pump, lock and maintenance kit are essential to get you out of any riding problems you might stumble into whether it be riding in the dark or repairing a puncture.

Clothing-wise you will need comfortable footwear and reflective clothes to make you more visible to motorists, while winter wear and waterproofs can prepare you in case you get caught up in the wind and rain.

Probably the most important piece of safety kit that every would-be cyclist needs is a helmet. When you’re getting started, make sure you buy a new helmet that fits properly and reaches BS or CE safety standards, and if it ever takes a heavy knock it should be replaced because it may not offer the same protection from then on.

Once you’re all kitted out, you’ll be itching to get the show on the road and race around your locality no doubt but don’t be too hasty in taking to the trails.

If you haven’t cycled much before or you’re out of the routine, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in first, such as your local park.

You should practise riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.

Checking the Highway Code for up-to-date cycling rules and regulations is also worth doing to make sure you’re ready to take to the roads and get cycling with the rest of Yorkshire.

Getting back out on two wheels doesn’t have to be an expensive commitment or lifestyle change, all we ask is that you give it a go and get cycling.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED? HERE’S HOW!

As the excitement builds ahead of the Tour de France’s Yorkshire debut, we want you to tell us your cycling stories.

We would love to hear from you, whether it be you sending in pictures of how you’re embracing Let’s Get Cycling by setting out on your first ride in years or emailing us about how important cycling is to you.

You can tweet your pictures and comments to our @LeedsNews Twitter handle using the hashtag #tdfyorks or post them on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/yep.newspaper as the countdown continues.

The YEP now features a dedicated Tour de France tab, which will keep readers up to date with all the latest news and sports coverage.

Readers can comment on our stories online before stage one or two of the Grand Depart get underway on July 5 and 6.

Visit www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/tdf for details.

- For all your Tour de France stories and events, why not get in touch with our Tour de France news reporter Jonathan Brown. email jonathan.brown@ypn.co.uk, tweet @jonnybrownyep or call 0113 2388134.

 

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