Maddi Aldam-Gates: Being a Student and a Cyclist

By We Love Cycling

Being a student and a cyclist at the same time can provide a fantastic combination of exercise, fresh air, academics and fun. However, despite the many benefits of being a cyclist alongside leading a student lifestyle, there can also be challenges. Not only is being a cyclist a brilliant way to meet other like-minded students at University, it is excellent for maintaining and improving good physical and mental wellbeing. Assigning an allocated amount of time to training each week helps to provide a healthy balance and acts as effective ‘time off’ from studies. This gives structure to each day and each week, helping to organise daily activities and tasks, and settle into a consistent routine. This enables you to get the most out of your time, and everything you do – in terms of academics, fitness, and social life. Many student cyclists would agree that riding their bike enables them to enjoy daily life more – for example by making them more grateful for rest and relaxation time, making them more appreciative of food, and encouraging forward-thinking and organisation.

However, it isn’t always easy to achieve a perfect equilibrium. There tends to be many distractions at University, as well as academic expectations which can make it difficult to fit cycling in. For example, weekly rides with university cycling clubs tend to change on a weekly basis rather than being set in stone, and these can easily clash with your timetable. Adding to this is the fact that most students attend university outside of their home area, and therefore lack navigational knowledge of their new surroundings making solo rides seem daunting, and it’s easy to see how becoming a student can limit cycling endeavours.

As well as this, there is the social side of being a student which can encourage staying up later, sometimes conflicting with training goals and plans. The impact can become significant, especially when it comes to sleep and fatigue. As well as this, later nights lead to later mornings, which leads to less time in the day to fit in everything a student cyclist might wish to do – for example, having three substantial meals, doing academic work, completing training sessions, and ensuring time for recovery.

Some coaches might argue that student cyclists should avoid this part of university life, instead favouring early nights and entirely productive, healthy nutrition. However, spending time with friends and meeting new people is an integral part of ‘doing University right’. Therefore, eliminating this from student/cyclists’ lives completely won’t necessarily be beneficial overall, as they may feel like they’re missing out on fun, and lacking in opportunities to make new social connections. Because of this, I’d say that it would likely be more beneficial to limit the number of late nights rather than forbid them entirely.

This would appear true across the board, with balance being key to flourishing as both a cyclist and a student. As ever, it is when things are done ‘in moderation’ that all seems to go so spinningly – it might just take a bit of time to find a comfortable gear and to settle at a sustainable cadence.