If you weren’t aware, yesterday (May 16th) was Bike to Work Day. I though that I would take this opportunity to share my recent interest in cycling, and benefits that come from it.
A few months ago I found an add on Craigslist for a free bicycle. There were no pictures available and only a brief description of an old road bike from the 70′s. However, when something is free, you don’t ask many questions; you just take what you can get.
Free adds usually go pretty quickly (at least with anything semi-worthwhile,) so I sent a request to this person with little hope of getting a positive response. However, I soon received a reply saying that the bike was mine. I was happy to have gotten the positive response, but still had no idea what to expect from the bike. With low expectations, I went to Squirrel Hill to pick up the old, mysterious bicycle, only to be surprised to find an older bike still in pretty decent shape.
Since then, I have been enjoying my Concord Freedom Deluxe 10-Speed. I have been using it to travel locally, and really take pleasure in not having to drive a car everywhere I go. I think that there are a number of reasons why riding a bicycle is beneficial, some of which I would like to share.
The Benefits of Riding a Bicycle
The first benefit of riding a bicycle is the exercise that you get. Obviously, cars are still necessary for most traveling, but if you are able to replace frequent short trips with a bike ride every once in a while, it can be a great way to stay healthy.
Again, if you can replace short easy trips with a bicycle rather than a car, you can also save money. Gasoline isn’t getting any cheaper, you know.
A third benefit to bicycle riding is that it is simply relaxing. It feels great to be able to get out on a bike and just clear your head.
Biking to Work
A great opportunity to exercise the tips that I just mentioned would be during a commute, possibly to work or school. I recently read an article in USA Weekend talking about the benefits of biking to work. The article, citing Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, mentioned the physical and financial benefits, and also had some tips to keep in mind when commuting by bike.
- Get a helmet. I don’t use one, but I guess that I’m just young and foolish.
- Test your route. Clark suggests that you do this on a weekend so you can take your time and get familiar with the route. I tested my route particularly to gauge the physical difficulty of the ride and to see how much time it would take.
- If your commute is long, consider driving to a location that’s only 5 miles from work, then biking the rest of the way. This is a really practical suggestion for anyone discouraged by the length of their commute.
- Keep in mind that you don’t have to bike to work everyday. “Two of three times a week has great health benefits,” Clarke says. This is another great tip. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision when decide that you want to bike to work. I only ride my bike to work if the weather is nice.
- Always follow this rule: “Be predictable and visible.” When you are biking, safety is a big concern. So, be careful, especially when you are around a lot of motor vehicles.
So, if you have a chance, find a bike and begin riding it. Start small if you need to, but I hope that after a while you can find a way to work bicycle riding into your regular routine. Cycling is both physically and financially beneficial, but I hope that it’s something that you can also enjoy.
“Bike to Work” was written by Jorge Cruise, FitSmart Editor for USA Weekend.