I'm going to write a few posts on reasons to ride a bicycle. We've all seen the usual lists of boring reasons: money, health, fitness, environment and so forth. The reason most people ride a bike, however, is simply because it's stupid simple fun.
Whether you go slow or fast, you bike because you like to ride. The fresh air invigorates you. Exposure to the environment awakens and heightens your senses. Closeness to the elements invigorates and makes you feel alive.
Cycling is a great way to explore at a reasonable pace. You make discoveries about your neighborhood every time you ride. You see the birds, the flowers and the trees. You find out the old lady down the street isn't as weird and scary as you imagined. You notice the oddball statuettes in the frontyard garden around the corner. You tune in to the rhythms of nature, with seasons and wind and weather.
Many bike commuters don't ride to save money or to reduce greenhouse emissions, although those are certainly worthwhile benefits. You do it because you like to ride. The morning commute clears your head for the work day ahead. The evening commute releases the stress of working all day.
If you read this and decide to give biking a try, take it easy at first. You don't need the latest space-age technology in your bike or clothing, although you're free to go all out if you want to. Limit your distance to a mile or two. Ride with your child to school or the park. If there's one within a reasonable distance, ride to a corner store for a candy bar, or to an ice cream shop, or even to a supermarket or grocery. Don't focus on speed or performance. Just keep it relaxed and the fun will follow.
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This is the truth. Cycling is fun and feels great. I enjoy being outside and riding by all the kids riding their bikes and walking to school. One of the fun parts of my ride is going as fast as I can down a hill into a small valley and trying to make it up the other side without slowing down. If I make it (which only happens if I slept well, ate a big breakfast, and a bit of tail wind doesn't hurt), I usually impress a few drivers and get a big ego boost for the day.
It's fun to catch up with other cyclists and talk with them about where they're from, where they're going, why they ride, etc.
It's fun to explore on a bike, because you can go so much faster and see so much more than you can on foot.
It's fun to explore on a bike, because you're going slowly enough that you can see / smell / feel everything around you.
It's fun to bike because it clears your mind -- you think better, you resolve problems you thought unresolvable, you get your perspective back.
It's fun to bike because it feels like freedom in a way that nothing else in the world even comes close to matching.
It's fun to bike because when you get home from a big ride food tastes twice as good as usual. Water, too.
It's fun to bike because there are so many different ways you can do it. Mountain biking, road biking, cross, track, bmx. I've been riding for more than ten years and there are still many, many aspects of this sport I haven't even tried. I don't have to worry about it becoming stale.
It's fun to bike because you pick up stories to tell.