Kay Jass writes for Cyclox on why it’s never too late to restart cycling and enjoy the benefits even after a very long break.

I learned how to cycle in my youth; rode for fun and then upgraded to the motorised version, as you do.

My cycle gathered dust for several years until I reached a point where the total number of hours spent in the car and in traffic was far too excessive; I needed a practical and easy hack. I decided that getting “on my bike” would be a far more pleasant and quicker way to travel when solo and for shorter journeys.

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The first step was taking the cycle out for a couple of test rides. I found it was in need of maintenance.

Thankfully there are plenty of local and mobile maintenance outlets in Oxford.

Once my bike was safe and operational, I started using my cycle for short trips for “top up” shops.

I wanted to avoid busy roads as I am not a confident cyclist around vehicles.

Knowing my local area, I was able to begin by taking the scenic route through parks and use dedicated cycle paths; easy, flat, well kept; off road routes to get used to handling the bike.

Then, moving onto using quiet roads to get to the outer supermarkets and reach other amenities; journey times took less than 20min one way.

Occasionally, I would venture out further afield to locations where car parking was difficult; always conscious of keeping to cycle paths, avoiding busy roads and focussed on reaching my destination safely.

This took some preparation in terms of looking at maps; exploring route options; taking a few wrong turns but the outcome was worthwhile.

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Now with more experience under my belt, a member of Cyclox reminded me that the National Cycle Network route 5 was all off road into Oxford from near where I live.

I immediately dismissed the idea due to the distance (13 miles for the round trip) and the time it would take (1.5hrs) and being unsure of my bike fitness.

However, the opportunity of off road, traffic free cycling piqued my curiosity and I told myself this would be a leisurely journey.

I’ve walked segments of the route along the Thames already and knew it well.

I decided to give the route a try one Sunday “on my bike.”

I set off at Sandford Lock and cycled at a leisurely pace past the rail track on my left and Kennington meadows to my right reaching the towpath adjacent to the Thames.

I stopped to watch the ducks at Iffley Lock and admire the Lock Keeper’s House and gardens.

At this point there were a number of cyclists and walkers sharing the path and I thought best to get off and push my bike over the bridges.

The rowers sculled at full speed whilst I rode at a slow pace but I was still quicker than the tourist boat!

I reached the Head of the River and felt happy, relaxed and a sense of achievement.

I parked my bike in the city centre and rewarded myself with an ice cream.

The journey itself was very leisurely, relaxing and traffic free. The only sight and sound of cars were from the bridges overhead.

An escape to the countryside whilst remaining in the city is a bonus.

I felt fine the next day and no soreness.

I now “get on my bike” up to twice a week as a practical hack to beat the traffic, save time; get some exercise and change of pace.

Cycle journey times are highly reliable and not dependent on traffic.

Summer is a great season to start cycling. I hope you will consider dusting off your old cycle and giving cycling a try.

Resources are available from Cyclox including maps, the next bike events and repairs.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.