Cambridge is a hugely cyclocentric city. When I moved in in my first term, I made sure that I had a bike before anything else. At the time, my lectures were taught out of the West Cambridge Site, which meant that I either would have had to plan ahead and walk or catch the bus. At this point, I cannot imagine living without a bike. Now onto my second bike in Cambridge, having sold the old one to a friend, I actively enjoy riding my bike. Sometimes I’ll even bike to my lectures at Sidgwick. But what are the elements of enjoying riding your bike?
- Right size bike and height of seat: Having the bike seat at the right height is important not just for the control over the bike it gives you, but because it lets you use your full leg length, making cycling less tiring.
If you stand on your pedal so that it is at the 6 o’clock position, your crotch should hover millimetres above the seat. If you are fully extending your leg and you end up standing above the seat by a couple of inches, those couple of inches are a couple of degrees where your leg has the most straightening power, not to mention that having to bend your legs too much when cycling will put strain on your back. When we all spend so many hours at a desk already, why add strain?
- Proper gear to be in: Most bikes have a full range of 18 gears, with 3 on the front and 6 on the back. Some bikes only have one gear (if you fall into this category you don’t need to worry about gears, because you will always be in the wrong gear). The larger the front chain ring the higher the gear, the smaller the rear cog the higher the gear (higher gear means harder to pedal and travel faster).
But how do you know which gear to be in? Adjust your gear depending on how hard it is to turn the pedals and how fast you can turn them. If you want to get to lectures without getting sweaty, aim for one full rotation a second. If you just don’t want to be late for your supo, aim for a rotation every count (one and a half rotations per second).
- Be safe: The sun is currently setting at 4:30pm. That means that for a lot of people, by the time you come out of labs the sun has already been gone for half an hour. The law is clear, you need lights. Get them online for less than a tenner, because, police business aside, your safety is worth more than a tenner (especially if you are not wearing a helmet).
However, despite all the positives of owning a bike, it is still completely possible to survive Cambridge without a bike. There is definitely something to be said for walking to lectures or home after a supo to reset your mind and let your head rest. In fact, walking has been proven to be more beneficial for mental health than cycling. If you do walk places, look up from your phone and take in the beauty of the city we live in. Whether you walk or cycle, why not enjoy it?