TAKING up cycling, especially if you haven’t owned ridden a bike for many years, can be daunting.

Paul Ashman of Swindon’s Recycles Cycling Club has some advice to make the early stages of the journey enjoyable.

He begins by covering the benefits of cycling and suggests options for when the time comes to take the plunge and obtain a bike.

IF somebody is thinking they want to get into cycling, they really need to think about three things.

What do they want to use the bike for?

What type of bike do they need and where will they get it from?

What are the other things they’ll need to go with the bike?

Obviously, it’s not just a case of going and buying a bicycle; there are other things that you need.

Why do people want to get a bike?

First and foremost, people want to get on a bike to use it as a form of exercise – getting fit, helping them with weight loss or for general all-round well-being and feeling better.

It has been proven that if you can get out on a bicycle, into the fresh air, it can have a positive impact on your whole life balance.

Some people want to get a bike to be able to do something as a family or a couple, to use it as a social thing.

I know one couple who bought a pair of bikes as something to do together. It can bring families together; it’s something they can do as a group, be it locally in Swindon around our cycle paths and parks or by taking the bikes on holiday.

There are also people who buy bikes for commuting. Some are forced into that because they can’t drive or can’t afford the running costs of a car, but equally there are people who want the benefits of saving money, of being quicker and safer by avoiding traffic and using cycle lanes.

I know of a very good racer based in London, and 90 percent of his training is purely done on the commute to work.

Where to get a bike? There are three routes.

There’s the second hand market, some people are given a bike – “I’ve got a spare bike in the shed; do you want that?” – and the third is what we know as the LBS, the local bike shop.

Within clubs there’s a big national thing about supporting your LBS as opposed to going online all the time.

If you are given a bike by somebody else or buy second hand, it will be a lot cheaper, but you’ve got to ensure that the bike is safe.

I would strongly advise that if you are given a bike or buy one second hand, you then have it checked over by a professional.

On the outside it might look absolutely fine but there could be a few gremlins. You can take it to a shop and ask them to do a service or – ideally – if you know somebody who knows about bikes you could ask them to take a look.

It’s a bit like the days when you were young and bought your first car, and took your dad along to kick the tyres!

Remember that buying cheap is not always the cheapest way; it could end up costing you more.

Alternatively, you can go to a local bike shop, of which we have lots in Swindon.

We have two types. There is Recycles, which is linked to the club and sells reconditioned second hand bikes - they are serviced to a good standard before they go out.

If you’re going to go to the other local bike shops, then obviously you’re going to get a brand new bike, which appeals to some people, and the added bonus of going to those is that they will offer the Cycle to Work tax scheme, which is a massive incentive.

In Paul’s next article, he will talk about how people can best choose a bike for their individual needs, including ensuring the machine is the correct size for safety and comfort.

He will also give some crucial advice about basic and advanced equipment.