Ride a bike to get fit and burn off some of those Christmas calories

This is the article we submitted for the January edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

A New Year, time for New Year Resolutions. Riding a bike is a great way to get fit for the new year, and burn off some of those Christmas calories.

Winter sales are a good time to pick up a bargain bike – don’t wait until spring. You really don’t need to spend a lot of money. For everyday cycling on a flat island, a cheap bike will get you there almost as fast. And you won’t be so worried about it being stolen.

They say space is the final frontier. And it’s especially true on Hayling, with our high proportion flats and small houses. So it always amazes me that folding bikes aren’t more popular (I have 4). They do everything a full-sized bike does, but they can be tucked away when you don’t need them. And you can often take them indoors at your destination for safe keeping. They fit in car boots, so are perfect for Park & Ride to work. And you can take them on trains at any time – they’re treated as luggage. You won’t need to save many car or bus journeys to pay for it, and it’ll keep you fit for free.

If you’re less agile than you used to be, most folding bikes have a low step through for easy mounting. And because the saddle can be lowered easily, they’re very confidence boosting. Some people find small wheel bikes a bit twitchy, but you soon get used to it, and I call it responsive. And they’re extremely manoeuvrable.

Decathlon folders offer fantastic value, with sturdy bikes that are fun to ride from £129 to £249. In the £400+ range, Tern and Dahon have a great reputation for riding experience.

But for commuting and brilliant folding, you can’t beat Brompton; they’re expensive, but they hold their value very well.

If you like the idea of keeping fit, but not ready to brave the cold weather, how about an exercise bike? I’ve got a really good one in front of my TV that also folds up small when not needed, and it’s just £85 on Amazon. So you can stimulate you muscles and your mind at the same time.

Havant Borough Council has published it’s draft Local Plan 2036 and draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (although they’re still waiting for transport studies, amongst others). Once approved, it will set the framework for development on Hayling and the rest of the borough for the next 20 years.

It’s very encouraging to find over 100 mentions of cycling, but even more important to see it translated into better cycling facilities over the next few years. Getting people onto bikes on their own good quality cycle paths will cut down on traffic, pollution, and take strain off the NHS.

They’ll be consulting from 8th January to 16th February, so do please give feedback and ask for better cycle paths on Hayling.

If the thought of a puncture puts you off cycling, puncture resistant tyres like Schwalbe Marathon Plus are awesome. I’ve almost forgotten how to mend a puncture, it’s so long since I had one. They’re a bit heavier than standard tyres, and more expensive, at around £25 each, but they re-pay their cost in inner tubes and lost time. Worth thinking about, especially if your tyres need renewing anyway.