Bike exploring: Help for Heroes
OS GetOutside Champion, Helen Pollard, takes us on a great Mountain Bike (MTB) route used as part of the delivery of MTB leadership training to Phoenix House staff in collaboration with Cycling UK.
Cycling is not only an excellent form of exercise, but also a great form of transport – without the cost or environmental impact. You don’t have to just ride on the road as there are many fantastic greenspaces that are cycle friendly and perfect for families to cycle together.
Cycling offers you a wealth of health benefits, such as increased cardiovascular fitness, improved joint mobility and the strengthening of muscle groups that you wouldn’t necessarily use on a walk or run(1). It is also a low impact exercise, which is gentle on your joints(2) and can really benefit people who suffer from certain physical problems.
You could cycle either at the gym or outside, but cycling outside offers you many more benefits than simply riding a static bike indoors – such as the achievement of seeing the distance you have travelled, adapting to the various gradients of your route, the smell of the fresh air, and the beautiful scenery. Experts believe that cycling outside also gives you more of a full body workout than cycling inside(3).
Exercising outdoors in nature also brings with it many benefits such as stress relief and feelings of rejuvenation(4), which is excellent at creating positive mental and physical health.
Whilst city centres and public roads are more accommodating of cyclists than ever before, thanks to cycle lanes and green initiatives, it is highly unlikely that you would want to cycle around busy roads with your family, especially if you have young kids.
The greenspace layer in OS Maps available through your web browser allows you to find spaces, such as parks, that are near to you, so you can visualise the route you need to take to get there and work out the distance. This is great for parents who want to find the safest route to take their children, before allowing them to let loose and enjoy themselves in the safety of a park.
The greenspace layer also shows you access points in and out of greenspaces, so you can see if you can drive to them with your bikes, park up and then set off – this is particularly great if you have young children or do not feel comfortable on the roads and want to ride at a leisurely pace.
You could also plan a cycling holiday, cycling from greenspace to greenspace – or cycling within greenspaces. If you’re visiting London, why not hire some Boris Bikes, use OS Greenspace to plot a route between our capitals world famous parks and take in the sights on two wheels instead of two feet.
Always obey local signs regarding safe and legal cycling routes.