Must be snowing north of here. Our club rides have doubled in size in the last couple of weeks as more of our snowbird friends arrive here for some warmth. But even more exciting is the ever-growing number of cyclists that tell me they ride to work or run errands just because they can. It got me to thinking, what are some of the reasons to ride a bike to work or other destinations? In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites starting with the obvious.
It’s good for your heart. Did you know that just 20 miles a week on a bike can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent says the National Health Center (http://bit.ly/2TdcvsW)? Twenty miles might sound like a lot if you’re just starting out — but even an overweight, out-of-shape, nascent rider on a fat-tire mountain bike can do this just over two hours. And there is nothing wrong with making it two 10-mile rides or even three 7-miles rides during the week. But you’ll quickly find that 20 miles is pretty easy, in fact maybe a bit short.
Bike riding boosts your immune system. Colds and infections have a tough time taking hold in a fit person. In a study, published in the journal Aging Cell, researchers looked at 125 very active adult cyclists who were between ages 55 and 79. The study compared the cyclists to people in their same age group who did not exercise regularly, as well as younger adults between ages 20 and 36. The cyclists were also producing the same level of T-cell activity as young adults in their 20s (https://ti.me/2K2JUSL).
A big reason for riding a bike to work of course is saving money. AAA said this year that owning and operating a car costs the average 15,000-mile-per-year driver $8,469 a year, or about $706 a month—and doesn’t help your heart or immune system one bit. The cost of cycling to work comes out to about $350 per year for a good commuter bike and occasional repairs.
There is an added caveat: The $350 doesn’t include fuel, which for a cyclist is food. So add another $400 for munchies. The savings is still significant. Another cost savings is that your car doesn’t have miles put on it. Since most auto repairs are related to miles driven and a well-turned odometer contributes to depreciation, fewer miles mean less repairs and greater resale value.
With all the talk here in Florida about legalizing marijuana, it may come as a surprise that bike riding can have a similar effect. You’ve heard of the runner’s high, that sense of euphoric feeling that may well be wired into us at a genetic level.
When you reach a certain point in your ride, the brain releases all these feel-good chemicals into your bloodstream, and you feel fantastic, like you could go on forever. Some evidence also points to the fact that it may be like a natural painkiller to help us forget our tired and battered body. Personally, I’ve found that a good ride loosens up sore muscles, clears the sinuses, eases a headache, and lightens the spirit.
Do you like driving around and around a parking lot looking for that perfect (or even just available) parking space? One of the best things about using your bike to go places is you can park almost anywhere. Official bike racks tend to be close to entrances. You literally ride door-to-door and get on with your day. Oh, and you don’t have to pay to park your bike either. There’s always a lamppost or a railing you can lock your bike up next to.
With all these benefits to commuting by bike, the question is ….
Did you ride your bike today?