In a world where the dominant image of cycling is lycra-clad whippets speeding along at a million miles an hour, there's a new cycling trend fighting back; Slow Cycling.
Slow Cycling is all about reclaiming cycling from its super-sporty image. It's about the leisurely ride, it's about looking up and around you when you cycle and enjoying the landscape, it's about cycling with friends and picnics, coffee stops and chats.
It is, essentially, what most vast majority of cyclists do most of the time, and you'll be happy to know there's lots of reasons why more people should embrace Slow Cycling.
1. It's accessible.
You don't need to wear lycra, you don't have to worry about going fast enough, and it sounds a lot more fun and a lot less painful than hardcore, sweat inducing training rides. In short, it's something that a lot of people can get into.
2. It's still exercise.
Just because you aren't going very fast doesn't mean it doesn't count! The government now recommend adults should get about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week, ideally in 30 minute blocks - so that's a few pootles to the shop, riding to work a couple of times and a several spins in the park. Simple!
3. It burns calories.
Low intensity exercise, where your heart rate is elevated but you are still riding at a comfortable pace is very efficient at burning fat, so it's great for shifting pounds.
4. It gets you outside.
Getting out in the countryside isn't just nice, it's been shown to be beneficial to your mental health. All the more reason to get on your bike.
5. It's social.
Ever tried to have a chat with someone on a road bike? That aggressive bike position isn't exactly conducive to great conversation. But on an upright bike you can chat face to face, and enjoy the countryside around you. That also means it's great for keeping an eye on the kids as they pedal about too.
The Best Bicycles for Slow Cycling
With an emphasis on comfort, fun and enjoying the view, the bike that best embodies the Slow Cycling revolution is the Dutch Bike. Upright, with a step through frame and big tyres, it's a wonderful cruise of a ride.
The Somerby by Pedleton Bikes at Halfords is a great choice, in a lovely light blue complete with rear rack. Electra Bicycles have an incredible range of what could be the most gorgeous bikes we have ever seen.You can even buy flowers to adorn your steed. Bobbin Bicycles also do a great range of beautiful bikes.
You don't need to break the bank either. We've got a selection of the Best Dutch Bikes for Under £500, though if you get really into it you'll want to have a look at 10 of the Most Wanted Dutch Bikes - they're stunning!
Similar to the Dutch Bike is the Cruiser, and can't you just picture yourself pedaling along the promenade on one of these gorgeous Summer Cruiser Bikes?
Slow Cycling With Kids (and Dogs!)
By it's very nature Slow Cycling is perfect for kids and families (though we can't guarantee the kids will buy into the 'slow' part). If you are looking for children's bike we've got a selection of the Best Girl's Bikes and Best Boy's Bikes. If your little one is too small to cycle, you can opt for a Trailer or Child Seat.
Where to Go Slow Cycling
Whether you pootle to the shops, head off along country lanes or pedal your way round your local park, so long as you are enjoying the ride you are doing it right.
In hot weather, head to the coolness of a Forest for your ride, or check out some of these Sustrans Rides. If you fancy something a little-bit off road, how about these Beautiful Bridleways, or stick close to the capital with these Stunning Bike Rides Near London.
Fancy something a little different and very stylish? How about a Vintage Bike Event.
If you are taking the kids out for a spin, our Family Friendly Ride ideas will give you loads to think about.
What to Wear Slow Cycling
Slow cycling is all about riding casually and for fun, so no special kit is required! Summer dresses, trousers, blouses - whatever you fancy. If you are wearing a skirt, then you can avoid inadvertent knicker flashing with the ingenious Penny In Yo Pants.
That said, if you do want a little inspiration, our Cycle Style section has plenty to choose from!
Helmets and Hair
If you want to protect your head in style, or fancy something that stands out from the crowd (leopard print anyone?) then check out these Gorgeous Helmets for Female Cyclists.
Want to keep your hair tip top and avoid helmet hair? These Hairstyles for Helmets are just the ticket, and they look super-stylish too.
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