Crisp crumpled leaves crackle under my tires. Flutes burning … deep breaths … I am almost to the top … I switch into second gear. Oh hell yes — I’ve made it! What a spectacular view.
I look out, onto Switzerland’s graceful rolling hills that troll effortless through the countryside. My eyes wander down the massive hill I have peddled up. It’s time for the real fun, speed. Minutes earlier gravity was my relentless personal trainer. Going down hill, gravity is my sweet, glorious friend. Man, I like to ride my bicycle. Luckily for me, bike riding has many positive benefits that can improve multiple facets of our lives.
1. Be a Savvy Environmentalist
Riding your bike is an excellent mode of transportation. Cycling to work, once a week, can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. The European Cyclists Federation (ECF) discovered cycling emits the lowest amount of greenhouse gasses per kilometer. Bike riding cuts green house gas emissions by more than 10 times, compared to a car. If the U.S. and/or EU countries increased their cycling, it could significantly help the environment, improve human health and reduce the production of crude oil. If EU citizens increased their cycling to Danish levels, oil imports would fall by nearly 10 percent.
2. It Saves Money
Biking is not only good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet. Let’s say your daily commute is 25 miles (round-trip) and you pay $30 a month for parking. If you bike to work every day for a month, you will save $320. You can calculate your savings here.
3. Live Longer
Cycling is clearly an excellent form of cardio. Unlike running or other forms of exercise, cycling is not nearly as hard on your joints. In fact, people who cycle live an average of six months longer. It’s estimated that 6,500 deaths are prevented annually in the Netherlands just because of biking.
4. Feel Better
Regular cycling also comes with a plethora of other health benefits like improving cardiovascular health, strengthening muscles, improving joint mobility, strengthening bones, improving posture, burning fat and increasing flexibility.
5. Have Fun … Anywhere
Regular bike riding is a fantastic way to help the environment, save some money and improve your health, but it’s also really fun. Cycling requires you to exert yourself uphill and coast easy downhill, making it an excellent sport. Not to mention, you can cycle nearly anywhere. Urban planners are becoming better at building bike paths and bike lanes for city dwellers.
Personally, I enjoy riding my bike in the city but what’s even better — deep wood mountain biking. Cycling in nature is a quick way for me to relieve stress and relax. I enjoy the reward of tackling a huge hill and being met with a stunning scenic view. Even better, making the world a blur racing down a beast of a hill at 35 miles per hour.
Cycle for your health, wallet, sheer pleasure or all three — either way, you are sure to reap the benefits. There are a number of fantastic sites that can help you find lovely bicycling routes near you. One of my favorite site is this one.
Do you know of any great bike trails? When was the last time you rode a bike? Maybe it’s time you go for a spin. —Alex