Someone asked me this, and I think it’s a good question. I don’t think about it much, and the answer(s) aren’t necessarily earth-shattering. But I may as well give it a shot. I also want to try to write 500 words in 30 minutes again, so this will probably be a list article. I’m allowed a listicle once in a while, especially in winter, right? Yes. Read on, won’t you please?
- Fun. The wind in your hair, the sun in your face, the world going by… you either love that feeling or not. You know what else is fun about bicycling? Flying down a hill, leaning into turns, cresting the top of big hill you weren’t sure you could ascend, riding with friends, and the list goes on.
- Exercise. Obviously as a fat athlete, I need to do something to try to reduce the excess poundage. But every human that is capable of it needs to move their body to keep it in good shape. If you ask Google “Is bicycling good for my health?” the answer is “Duh!” It reduces resting heart rate, strengthens your heart muscle, lowers blood and body fat levels (well, I’m still waiting on that), and much more. I may be undertall, but as a middle-aged man who has biked the equivalent of around the equator (currently on lap 2) I bet my resting heart rate could kick the ass of the same in much younger people.
- Nature. Breathing fresh air, looking at green trees, riding through parks on trails or forging your own path through the woods are all beneficial. You can’t do that very well from a car, or bus, or plane, or train and be IN nature.
- Sightseeing. Viewing places and things you didn’t expect from a bicycle seat instead of a car seat is different. You’re going slower usually so you see more. Being closer to whatever you’re looking at you notice things you wouldn’t. And of course if you’re going off-road gravel or mountain biking, you’ll view even more amazing sights.
- Socializing. I mentioned this under Fun, but it deserves its own section. Back before the plague, I would go on rides with groups. Usually from a bike shop, but also social rides. Last year I participated in two Black history tours. And occasionally a friend will join me. All those different rides have benefits, namely safety in numbers, catching up with friends, and just the enjoyment of being part of a peloton aka pack. On long rides you have nothing but time to chat. So yeah, other bike people is good.
- Transportation. Back before this happened, I had no choice but to do almost everything by bicycle. Sometimes I would walk or take the bus, but biking was just faster. Commuting to work, doing errands, going to the movies, meeting a friend for dinner are all very doable by bike in most cases. You need to plan for weather, sometimes a way to clean up and change clothes, and factor in the time. But millions of people do it every day, and most of the time I still do all that by bike, too. Or will when I get a job and restaurants and movie theaters are safe again.
- Environment. The planet is dying from human-made pollution. Biking reduces your carbon footprint, even a little. So it’s simple math.
- It’s cool. There’s a certain panache to riding a bike. It takes a certain amount of bravery, effort, balance, safety-awareness that those who are too afraid to do it admire. I mean, Tom Brady does it. Jerry Seinfeld does it. Martin Luther King, Jr. did it. Halle Berry does it.
- I want to. This needs no explanation. I just do. So there.
- Why not? I mean, that’s a really good answer. It puts the question back on the questioner. Aside from injury, weather, lack of access to a bike and safe places to ride, or death, there aren’t any reasons to not ride that come to mind.
Well, that was about 30 minutes writing, but it took a little extra for the pictures and links. So, does that answer your question?
If you bike, why do you do it? If you don’t, what’s holding you back?
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