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Fitness: Cycling a great way to keep fit

For anyone who wants to stay fit and healthy without daily trips to the gym, it doesn’t get much better than cycling.

There are so many great places to ride, many of them within easy reach, and this time of year is perfect for getting out there and having a tug on the handlebars.

One form of cycling that has experienced explosive growth in the last few years is mountain biking and on Sunday 10th of April. I went down to the first round of the Mud Sweat & Gears MTB race series in Hylands Park near Chelmsford.

Mountain bike racing is an exceptionally friendly sport, yet very competitive. There are categories for different ages and abilities, so anyone can get out there and give it a go. There are also different formats, but generally speaking it’s about completing a set number of laps in the quickest time. The laps are of a woodland course, with a number of hills, dips, turns and natural obstacles, all designed to test the ability, fitness, and in some places; the courage of the rider.

From a health and fitness perspective, mountain bike racing is excellent. Riding a bike, exercises your cardiovascular system and your muscles. Breathing in all that healthy woodland air, along with the psychological benefits of being out of the concrete jungle and in to nature’s playground can only be good for you. That said, mountain biking does have its risks. People do fall off, and sometimes in spectacular fashion. I observed at least one rider go past me in immaculate looking team colours, only to emerge from his next lap looking like something fresh from the swamp!

The day had an added touch of excitement for me, as three riders were riding for the Health Muscle & Fitness Pedal Power team. Mike Moore, who put in an awesome performance to achieve 11th place in a field of sixty-three top riders. Lewis Parker, perhaps the youngest racer to line up with the seniors, pulled off a fantastic mid table position, securing his place as one of the most talented young prospects in East Anglia. The brilliant Jodie Cole also had a great ride, finishing 5th in the women’s race.

Congratulations also to all the other TROG riders for some outstanding performances; Julian Parker 7th, Andrew Ward 8th and Carl Smith 10th in the Veterans race. Chris Driver 10th in the Grand Vet, and Dan Howe, Mark Wanger, Mark Algar, Julian Bosley, Ian Aldis and Adrian Healey.

The next two rounds are at Thetford forest on the 8th May and Tunstall forest on the 5th June, if you like mountain biking or are interested in racing, I can highly recommend going for a day out. For more information on Mud Sweat & Gears www.mudsweatgears.co.uk. Or to join a club www.trogmtb.com
For the best advice on sports nutrition and improving your performance….you know where to come.

• Ant Watt is the owner of HMF – www.hmfworld.com – and a respected expert on sports equipment and practices. Tel: 01473 226888. (This column appears every month in Ipswich24 magazine)

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