10 reasons spring is the ideal time for cycling

A family of four (mum, dad, boy and girl) are cycling through a meadow filled with crocuses and daffodils
Spring is the best time for cycling
Any season is great for cycling, but spring is particularly good – a perfect combination of warmer weather, longer days and lots of bank holidays. Content officer Rebecca Armstrong makes the case for spring cycling

It’s officially spring (either from 1 March or 19 March depending on whether you go by a meteorological or astronomical definition of the seasons). It’s a time of reawakening and new beginnings.

Whether you’re getting out on a bike for the first time ever or the first time this year, now is a great time to go cycling. If you’ve been riding all through the winter, spring is the time to up the hours in the saddle. Here’s why.

1. Warmer weather

This is the obvious one. After winter cold, the weather will be improving, even if it feels like it’s taking its time. Conditions will be warmer and brighter and altogether more pleasant, without hitting the sometimes extreme heat of summer.

You can start to strip off those heavy winter layers and break out lighter clothing. Be careful though – especially in early spring it can still get very chilly and wet. You’ll want to make sure you dress appropriately.

The extra warmth and sunlight make even the most utilitarian ride more enjoyable. This helps boost motivation. If you’re having more fun, then you’re more likely to want to go cycling, whether that’s a work commute or a Sunday leisure ride.

You can also go faster – cold air is denser and so harder to cycle through. And all that extra sunshine will naturally replenish your vitamin D levels.

2. More hours of daylight

Even if you’re a hardened cycle commuter, the thought of having to set off in the dark both in the morning and after work is dispiriting. As the days get longer and there’s more daylight at each end of the day, the prospect of getting into – or back into – riding to work feels a lot more achievable.

You can start planning longer weekend rides, knowing that you’ll get home while it’s still light, or even take advantage of the lighter evenings with some post-work cycling. As the season progresses, you could finish those weekend rides with a refreshing lemonade (and maybe a slap-up lunch) in a pub garden.

On the other hand, sunrise isn’t unthinkably early at this time of year and you can go on an early morning ride to watch the sunrise. Just after the clocks go back is the best. Aim to leave just before sunrise and get to a good vantage point in a park or out in nature where you can appreciate the sun as it peeps over the horizon.

Take a flask of hot coffee with you to warm yourself up. Or you could treat yourself to breakfast in the open air. Whether it’s a muesli bar and some fruit, a selection of pastries or – if you’ve got the gear – something cooked and more substantial, breakfast will never have tasted so good.

Sliced malt loaf is arranged on a tin pot that's turned upside down, with two bananas next to it and a small pot of honey
Enjoy an outdoors breakfast at sunrise

3. It can improve your mental health

The cold, dark days of winter are hard for everyone, and even worse for those who experience seasonal affective disorder. All exercise is a mood booster and cycling is especially good for improving wellbeing.

Cycling outside is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, while increasing feelings of revitalisation, energy and positivity. Indoor cycling, or using the gym, just doesn’t have the same effect.

Being out in the sunshine makes you feel better. Taking advantage of the warmer, longer days to get out cycling is an excellent way to improve self-esteem, too, as it gives you a sense of achievement. You don’t have to do loads, either. A little bit of cycling in the sun goes a long way.

4. You’ll get fitter and healthier

Regular riding will improve your fitness and overall health. Cycling is excellent cardiovascular exercise. It’s low impact and people of all ages and fitness levels can take part. The huge choice of e-bikes, standard and non-standard cycles makes it accessible to many people who might otherwise be excluded from regular exercise.

Cycling is great for the heart and lungs as well as general fitness and increasing stamina. It provides an excellent lower-body workout and can build muscle endurance.

Many of us struggle to get motivated during winter, but getting out for a bike ride on warm spring morning doesn’t feel like exercise, especially if you’re riding to work or the shops. It’s almost like stealth exercising – every time you get out on a bike you’re getting fitter and healthier without even knowing it.

For those people who braved winter cycling, now is the time to make the most of your efforts. Use those extra hours of daylight to increase your hours in the saddle to really improve your fitness. Remember: winter miles make for spring smiles.

A family is riding on a trail through woods, with a boy at the front, girl behind him and then mum at the rear
Cycling makes you feel good and it’s a great way to keep the kids entertained. Photo: (c) Gbh007 | Dreamstime.com

5. More ride variation

Boredom will quickly sap motivation and enthusiasm for anything, while bad winter weather can make certain trails and roads unrideable. Spring’s improved conditions, however, can open up a plethora of new riding opportunities.

Trails that were bottom-bracket deep in mud will dry out as the weather gets warmer, while those quiet back roads that were out of bounds due to snow and ice will be nicely thawing out. Even if you’re just planning to ride to work, you’ll be able to vary your route for a bit of variety.

You can mix things up with on- and off-road routes, longer and shorter journeys, morning or evening rides. You could even try something completely new. If bikepacking appeals but the winter months put you off, for example, now is the time to give it a go.

6. Socialise and reconnect

It’s easy to go into hibernation mode in winter. Cold, wet and windy weather isn’t particularly conducive to socialising, especially outside.

The warmer weather and longer days of spring, however, are perfect to get together with friends, family, co-workers or fellow cycling club members for a social ride. Cycling is a great way to reconnect with people you might have neglected over the winter months. Riding with others also provides the opportunity to share skills and increase confidence.

The latest research has shown that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Cycling with others can help combat this. If you don’t have any cycling buddies yet, look for a club in your local area. Cycling UK has around 1,000 affiliate and member groups across the UK, so there’s likely to be one near you.

A group of people are riding on a tarmac path in a park. Three women are at the front. They are smiling and chatting
Riding with friends will help you reconnect

7. Enjoy the great outdoors

Spring is a time of renewal for the natural world. Fruit trees are in blossom, daffodils, crocuses and tulips will be in bloom and it’s the ideal time for spotting wildlife. May will be flowering, filling the air with its beautiful aroma.

You can experience something that’s almost unique to the UK: woodland carpeted with stunning indigo bluebells. The majority of the world’s bluebells are in the UK – we’re blessed with thousands of them, and they look amazing. But they don’t hang around for long, so get out on your bike and head to the closest bluebell wood.

Spring is the best time to see wildlife too. On one recent ride I saw a stoat, green woodpecker, a charm of goldfinches, a coal tit and my first house martin of the year. Early morning rides are accompanied by birdsong, with common chiffchaff’s eponymous song a standout sound.

8. It’s good for the environment

You can enjoy all the beauty of the natural world knowing that you’re doing your bit to protect it. Cycling is the most carbon-neutral way to travel. Swapping short journeys that you usually drive for cycling will significantly lower your impact on the environment.

By ditching the car, or even the bus, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint. You’ll be helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

When you’re out and about keep in mind the adage: ‘Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.’ Adapted from a quote by 19th-century Native American Chief Seattle, it means don’t disturb the wildlife while you’re enjoying it. Although in this case we could probably substitute ‘wheel tracks’ for ‘footprints’.

A man is riding a fat bike on a trail through a bluebell wood. He's wearing mountain biking gear, sunglasses and a helmet and is smiling at the camera
May is the best time to find a bluebell wood near you. Photo: Roland Seber

9. Explore new locations – or get to know familiar ones even better

Getting around by bike is great. You can go much further than on foot and access areas that are closed to cars. You also see a lot more than when sitting in a car and you can much more easily stop to take photos or pay closer attention to things that catch your eye.

You can easily take a detour to explore that quirky little lane you just spotted or stop to check out an interesting-looking café without having to worry about finding a parking space. Just make sure you bring a decent lock with you and you’re sorted.

More daylight hours mean you can really make a day of it. Most train services allow bikes – but always check the train company’s website first – so you can visit towns or head out to the country or coast. You could plan a ride taking in local hotspots or just freestyle it when you’re there.

10. Take advantage of the holidays

With Easter, two May bank holidays and half term breaks across the UK, spring seems to have more than its fair share of days off. As well as days when the kids will need entertaining.

You can make the most of this time by planning a city cycling break with family, friends or solo. Many towns and cities in the UK now have cycle share schemes so you don’t even have to take your own bikes with you. It’s a great way to spend some quality time with the people most important to you.

The more adventurous might want to try bikepacking. Cycling UK’s Rebellion Way consists of a mix of quiet, mostly flat back roads, byways, cycle paths and bridleways, making it an ideal introduction to multi-day, on- and off-road adventuring. It’s also one that can be done with kids in tow.

Of course, the best reason for getting out on your cycle for spring is simply that it’s more fun! You can leave the winter layers at home and soak up some of that springtime sunshine. See you out there!