Everyone should learn to ride a bike. It’s as easy as learning to ride…well, a bike. And the thing is once you have learned is not something you ever forget you can do.
Almost all of us learned to ride as kids. Most people remember all too well their first bike, and they do so with happy care free memories of childhood: Long sunny days playing with friends, trips to the park with our parents, riding to class…
For many people, bicycling never stops and continues right into their 80’s and 90’s and has been an intricate part of their entire life. For others riding stops the moment they get their driver’s license.
But no one should ever stop riding. There, it’s been said. I’ve said it. There are different reasons why people stop, some people never stop, and other people never start when it comes to bikes, but there are a multitude of reasons why we should all ride bikes and make them part of our everyday life.
Some reasons are obvious, others not so much. Whether you want save money, get fit or die trying, or just try and do your bit to save the world, here’s a list of the 40 most important reasons why everyone should put a metal tube between their legs and pedal off into the sunset.
- It’s really, really good for your heart
Let’s get the really obvious ones out of the way first. You don’t have to take part in Endurance mountain bike races or train like an athlete to get the benefits of cycling. 20 miles a week on a bike can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. For the record, even an unfit, overweight, cyclist in their mid-30’s (this author, 4 years ago) could mange that in 1 go in just over 120 minutes.
- Boost your immune system
Riding a bike and getting some moderate exercise can boost your immune system, so you can beat off colds and minor infections much easier than if you were a couch potato. Human beings were designed by evolution to be physically active most of the time.In geological terms, mankind’s shift to a sedentary lifestyle happened a second ago. Your butt was not designed to wallow in a Lazy Boy armchair. The Lazy Boy was designed around your butt. Our biology works more efficiently the more active you are.
- Save money by commuting by bike
It’s a great way to save for future investments. Save on bus fares, and save on Gas, by simply pedaling two wheels to work. As an added benefit, you won’t have to listen to those infuriatingly annoyingly chirpy drive time radio shows that cut to traffic news and depressing news updates every 2 minutes, and cutting the last 30 seconds off your favorite music track.
- Increase the lifespan of your car
This is no joke. Just use your bike for short journeys. This is as much about looking after your car as it is using your bike. If you use your car for short journeys you could be shortening the engine’s life. Driving your car only a short distance then turning off the engine means the engine oil never heats up to the right temperature and fails to lubricate the moving components and can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your car.
- Maximize the resale value of your car
The less you use your car, the less chance it will get bumps and scrapes and lose that new car smell as quick. And of course when the time comes to sell that car, the lower the mileage, the higher sale price. It just makes sense.
- Sell your car, make some money, save a fortune
So now it feels like we’re beating a dead horse with the whole car vs bike thing, but selling your car could make a lot of sense, especially if you don’t use it much, or only use it to commute back and forth from work. You’d also save a small fortune on car insurance, taxes, and regular servicing and repairs; and just in case you’re wondering, no it does not cost as much to keep a bike in working order as it does a car…
- Sell one car…
Again with the car thing, really? Yes. These days it’s really common for many families to own more than one car. But the question is, do you really need 2 cars? Remember when having two cars was considered something of a luxury? Enough with the cars. The next piece of advice will definitely prick up your ears.
- Get to have more sex
Oh yeah! Riding… (A bike! Get your mind out of the trash can, you’re better than that.) improves stamina, flexibility, makes it better overall, and will mean that for once, when you say you can go all night, you won’t be lying.
- Get to have better sex
Orgasms are just better, the fitter you are. The end…result (You can put your mind in the trash can now.) results in a more powerful release of feel good hormones like serotonin, melatonin and testosterone when you climax than if you spent your days eating yourself into a food coma.
- Be younger sexually
Men who are physically fitter than their peers can have the sexual magnetism of their peers up to five years younger than they are. Go you, you tiger, you!
- Stay potent
Don’t believe the stories about what riding does to your male nether regions. Scientists have found that men over 50 years of age are at 30% less risk of impotence than those who do next to no cycling.
- Increase Vitamin D
Unless you spend your weekends and evenings on an indoor bike to get fit, then it will come as no surprise to know that a lack of sunlight can have a major impact on vitamin D levels. This is even more of an issue during those long cold winter nights when all of us would rather be soaking up the latest box set on Netflix than taking your life in your hands by cycling in the dark.But not getting enough sunlight can have a negative effect on your mood, and perhaps more concerning, a lack of vitamin D has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and can affect you at a genetic level…So grab some decent sunblock and get on your bike.
- Live forever
Well, not quite, but you will live longer, and be less likely to get cancer. “Regular exercise extended the lives in every group that we examined in our study—normal weight, overweight, or obese” says Steven Moore, a leading author on an extensive study carried into physical activity. So even if you’re not very fit or are overweight right now, you can reasonably expect to live longer just by getting out on a bike today.
- Help out the government of your country
As the world population grows so does the pressure on individual nation’s infrastructure. The cost of constantly upgrading and creating new roads can run into billions of $$$ every year. If everyone who was able to took their bike instead of their car when the opportunity afforded itself, there could be less pressure to build another freeway just so traffic flowed that little bit quicker.
- See the global local
Anyone can whizz from place to place in a car or a plane when they go vacationing. But isn’t the point of vacations and travelling to see more, not less. For instance, this author visited 25 different countries last year, including Holland, Scotland, Mexico, Switzerland, and the USA. But all I saw of most places was the Arrivals hall, and then a view of roads that led to industrial estates. I never got to see the Appalachian way, or the Alps, or the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.What I did see of anything took place at 50-60 miles per hour. Anything interesting was gone in a few seconds. But when you travel by bike, you see everything and you discover so much more. Vacationing on a bike doesn’t mean covering a 100 miles day. The best bike holiday I ever went on was on the coast of Spain. We were lucky if we covered 20-30 miles a day, but we saw so much, and went to so many places that just wouldn’t have been possible in a car. A lot of the journey didn’t even take place on roads. It was magical.
- Look cool buying coffee…
…. if you own a beach cruiser. It’s not just all about increasing cadence levels.
- Get high without having to come down
Everyone’s heard of the runners high. The great news is you don’t have to be a runner to experience it. You just need to be relatively fit, and ride for a while. Once you’ve experienced it once, you’ll want to hit it again and again and again. The runners high is hard to describe in a meaningful way to someone who’s never experienced it. But essentially, it’s 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. Either way, the runner’s high rocks, if you can find it.
- Get to actually know the place you live
When you cycle, you’ll find yourself trying to find a way to stay off the roads. You’d be amazed how much opportunity there is to just explore your local surroundings, or how much of it there actually is when you’re not in your car. You might find a river you don’t know existed, a café that sells the best mocha latte in the northern hemisphere. Most people never truly realize just how much there is so close to us, and maybe you’ll learn to appreciate your local community all the more for it.
- Lose the weight in your saddle by getting in the saddle
When most people try to lose weight, the first thing they do is buy some running shoes and some ridiculous Lycra and they start jogging, or running. While jogging is without doubt an excellent, and cost effective way to slim down and lose some pounds, you can go further on a bike regardless of your fitness levels, so it’s good for your mental health too.It means more to you to say “I went 5 miles last night on the bike” than “I managed ½ a mile last night when I ran.” Obviously it’s a personal choice, and this article is completely and utterly biased toward cycling, but which option sounds better?
- Cycling is low impact
Again, jogging is a completely valid form of exercise for losing weight it, but it might not be the best option for some people starting out. This is especially true if they don’t have a history of being physically active, and they are carrying more than a few extra pounds. Cycling is known for being a low impact activity that is generally kinder to your joints and your body.If you are overweight then every time you plant a foot when running, all that extra weight is amplified through your knees and ankles and the force of impact will be felt quite fast, leaving not just your muscles sore but also damaging ligaments and tendons. On a bike, that extra weight will be taken up by the saddle, leaving your muscles to do the work instead of the structural bits of your body.
- Use your phone for something other than Facebook and Instagram
Download Strava, or Endomondo, or a host of other apps, and you can record everything and race against yourself, so you can get real world progress on your fitness.
- Cycling is better for you than running
Well, you can’t argue with the science. A 2014 study showed that riding a bike is actually better for you than running. Runners of every ability are more likely to suffer long term damage and suffer from inflammation and soreness after doing the equivalent work running as they would have done on a bike.
- You can go longer on a bike than you can on foot
No, not go further, although that would make sense, but train for a longer period of time over all. The same study as the one already mentioned above drew the conclusion from their results. The scientists noted that the low impact nature of cycling meant there was less chance of injury and joint pain and thus people on bikes could train longer before having to stop.
- You breathe better on a bike, even in rush hour traffic
Seriously, you do. It may seem counterintuitive, but the quality of air you suck in on a bike while riding through traffic jams is better than they commuters sitting in their cars. Cars AC systems suck in the exhaust fumes of the vehicle in front of them, it’s just the way cars are designed.It makes sense on the open road but not in traffic. All that bad air gets sucked into the enclosed cabin of the car and has nowhere else to go other than your lungs. It is thought this may be due to the fact that cyclists breather more air in and out due to their level of exertion, and also the fact they are more likely not to be in the direct line of exhaust fumes. It’s something to think about anyway.
- Get fit without thinking too hard about it
If you choose to commute to work by bike, not only will you save a fortune on gas, and bus fares etc. You’ll also get fit without having to spend a fortune on gym fees. You’ll get fit without even thinking about it. It’s also a much more attainable goal to keep than having to make time to go to the gym.
- Reduce your chance of becoming obese
Studies have shown that people who commute to work by car but still take part in good regular exercise are still likely to put on weight. In order to stop becoming obese, it’s recommended that you fit somewhere between 60 – 90 minutes of exercise a day.22. You can get fit without trying too hard.
- It’s another sport you can really get into on TV
The Tour de France is like watching paint dry for some people. But you may find that changes once you start riding your bike everywhere.
- Save the planet
Cycling is not only really good for you, it’s also really, really good for the planet. Yay! You can justifiably ride your bike and know with each pedal stroke you’re helping save the world. Go you. 70% of all car journeys could be made on a bike in less than 20 minutes. In the USA, 30% of all greenhouse emissions are motor vehicle related.The environmental impact of motor vehicles in colossal when compared to the production of bikes. Then there’s all the carbon based pollutants cars throw into the air that affect the Earth’s climate. If you travel under your own power, you’ll be decreasing the overall reliance on harmful nonrenewable fuel sources.
- You can become a gear junkie, but feel good about it on the inside
After all, maybe owning a pair of Jacksh*t pedals won’t have any effect on your abilities to ride a Dirt bike down a bike trail, but you can rest assured that you’ll feel better having some of the best equipment known to man. And it’s better for you and more useful than an I-Kettle.
- Ride in the rain
Rain; it’s not an excuse unless there’s a real danger of flooding. Did you ever jump in puddles as a kid? Rain riding can be some of the best fun you can have on a bike. Water in your shoes won’t kill you. If you’re commuting then maybe don’t wear your suit and put it in a bag till you get there…There’s nothing more exciting than bursting down a waterlogged mountain bike trail in the wet, trust me.
- Dress like a moron
When you go riding, you can look like a novelty condom in skin tight Lycra and no one will say a word. Go for a walk looking like a dayglow Popsicle and everyone laughs. Its double standards at its worst.
- Teach your children to ride a bike
Everyone remember the first time their parent let go of the saddle and you pedaled away furiously under your own steam and didn’t fall off. No doubt you screamed at them, ‘don’t let go, don’t let go,’ while your parent shouted back ‘I won’t, I won’t’ and then you looked round and they were 100 feet behind you, and, you, were, riding, on, your, own. It’s a moment, no one ever forgets, so show your kids how to ride.
- Spend quality time with your family
Cycling is something your whole family can do together, from toddler to great grandparent. The youngest can go in a bike trailer, and everyone else can pedal away happily together, off on another family adventure.
- Define your children for life, in a good way
Children are influenced greatly by the behaviors of their parents. This is as true of exercise as it is as teaching them to read. If you ride on a regular basis, then they will too. Some things we can unlearn as we grow older, and some things like riding a bike, we never forget. If you can get them to enjoy their time in the saddle as a youngster, they will be more likely to be fitter and more active in the future.
- Spend quality time with your partner
It’s not a race, get in sync with the way each of you ride, and make cycling dates at least once a week. If he/she doesn’t like barreling down black runs at the local trail center, then compromise and just enjoy each other’s company. And of course, the fitter you both become, the more s…well, see points 8-10 above again.
- Spend quality time with yourself
Nobody said you had to do everything with your family. Everyone needs their space. It helps keep us all sane. Sometimes all you want to do is burn your way down a favorite trail, or hit the open road on your own. And why not. Being active and spending time on your own in a constructive and positive manner is really good for you.
- Park like a Boss
One of the best things about using your bike to go places is the way is the way you can park up almost anywhere. Office bike racks tend to be close to the entrance, and there’s none of that going around and around and around the parking lot fighting other drivers for the Eldorado of parking spots.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.
- Once you start, you’ll never stop
There’s never been a better time to be a cyclist. Just look at all the options you can get from stores like Jenson, Evans, Cambriabikes, or REI.Between 2001 and 2011 New York exhibited a 289% increase in bike usage. There’s more cycle routes and acceptance of cyclists in general, and well, let’s face it, the oil is going to run out some day…
- You don’t have to feel bad if you do stop for a while
Don’t feel guilty if you do stop….Because some people think that it has to be all or nothing. It’s like if you buy a bike you somehow have to be out there and doing it every day of the week. F*** that. Do it when you want to. If it’s the middle of winter, it’s raining and it’s dark outside, why would you go out on your bike? And let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to.That’s cool. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be enjoyable. When it snows where I live, I take the car. Of course some people like riding their bike in the snow.
- You’ll see real progress
One day you’ll look ahead of you at that dreaded hill that always kills your legs, put your head down, pedal as far as you can, and then walk your bike the rest of the way, just like you always do…except this time without realizing it, you’re already going down the other side, and you didn’t even notice. There is no better feeling in the world than the day you weigh yourself and you realize you’ve lost weight.It can only be rivalled when you realize you’ve been playing with your kids for an hour straight and they’ve tired before you have. It’s a phenomenal feeling, and in my experience, better even than the runner’s high.