We all learn to ride bikes as kids, but then comes high school and cars and other interests (like the opposite sex) and somehow our bikes end up in garage sales. But bicycling is a tremendous activity for any age, which is why you see so many people riding these days — on city streets, country roads and bike trails.
Get Healthy (Without Noticing)
Face it, exercise can be drudgery. Counting situp reps, straining on the weight machine, even watching soaps on a treadmill can get old very fast. But on a bike you’re out in fresh air, you’re seeing the sights and you’re getting a great workout without even knowing it. Riding a bike is obviously good exercise, but there are specific benefits:
Cycling minimizes the risk of coronary heart disease. Essentially an aerobic exercise, it gives your heart, blood vessels and lungs a workout.
A few miles of cycling per day assures trimmer and toned muscles. This is because your upper thigh muscles, backside and calf muscles all get to work out.
Cycling helps build stamina.
It will help you control your weight.
A good bike ride can lift your spirits and reduce anxiety.
So Many Choices
The kind of bike you want will depend on the kind of riding you do.
For off road biking. Solid, durable, with wider tires, suspensions that will absorb bumpy terrain, and plenty of gears for climbing.
A cross between a mountain bike and a “regular” bike, this bike is perfect for people who want a versatile bike for casual and fitness riding — on road and off. This category has exploded in growth over the past few years. For the serious cyclist who covers a lot of distance and wants a fast, lightweight and comfortable bike.
Functional, durable and easy to maintain, this bike is excellent for city commuters.
Michael Sohalsky with Schwinn Bicycles of Madison, Wisconsin, and he says it is very important to find a bike that suits you. “Listen to the advice of the people in the store, because they know bikes,” he says. “But you also want something that looks attractive on you, so don’t be afraid to listen to your gut, too.” (Just don’t let it talk you out of buying the bike).
A Bike for Every Price Range
Not only are there all kinds of bikes, there are all kinds of prices. Hard core cyclists want speed as well as durability, and bike construction can be very high tech, with sophisticated frame materials like carbon fiber, titanium and various alloys. And technology costs money: You can easily spend $10,000 on a bicycle.
But don’t let that scare you. For a few hundred dollars you can get a perfectly fine bicycle that does everything you need it to.
An Infinite Number of Miles Per Gallon
Exercise and pleasure will always be big reasons to bike, but with the price of gas these days practicality and economy are becoming more important factors. Any time you can ride your bike instead of driving your car you will be saving big money, considering you will spend on gasoline. Even if you ride to work once a week, you’ll be ahead.
Some tips on commuting with a bike:
Make sure your bike is comfortable and working well.
Plan your route; you will probably have to balance safety, convenience and aesthetics, you may want several routes for different moods.
Test your route on a day off when you are not under pressure; not only do you learn the route, you test your equipment and learn about how long the ride takes.
Select light, bright colored cycling clothes; you can’t make yourself too visible.
Plan your work attire; store a wardrobe at the office or carry cloths rolled in a towel to reduce wrinkling. (Tip: some people deliver a week’s worth of clothing to their office once a week.)
Get bike panniers or a ruck sack; for clothing, papers and snacks — longer rides favor panniers.
Buy a lock; learn where to park and how to use the lock for maximum effectiveness.
Wear a helmet — this applies for all bike riding; even with good training on how to ride like a vehicle, and riding defensively, accidents occasionally happen. Studies show that helmets can reduce the severity of the injury.
Safety is a concern for everyone on a bicycle. Bikes can be a great alternative to a car, but that car will always be bigger and faster than you are on a bike. Ride carefully in traffic.
Find a Bike Trail Near You
Recognizing the health and environmental benefits of cycling, state and local governments and private organizations are greatly expanding the number and length of dedicated biking trails. Go on the Internet and search “bike trails” under your state and you’ll likely find a number of good choices near you.
*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.