One of our guests, Cliff, shared this article with us about his journey into the wonderful world of cycling. Lots of great points and information. Thanks, Cliff!
The year was 2008 and the economy had gone to hell in a hand-basket.
Left without a full time job or the funds for a gym membership, I purchased a $300 mountain bike from Bicycle Warehouse in San Diego.
At the time is was just a way to see the beautiful beach and sites around the city that I had just moved to without having to deal parking and the cost of fuel.
It wasn’t long before my $300 bike proved to be invaluable to my state of mind in a rather depressing time. I set a goal to ride 3 times a week with the intent just to get exercise, however, the side-effects of setting a goal to stay physically healthy resulted in a mood boosting state of mind when I needed it most.
8 Years later and I am an avid cyclist participating in centuries (100+ mile rides) and many local events surrounding cycling. 8 years ago if you told me I was destined to focus my career around something as simple as a bicycle, I would have told you that you were crazy. When I tell people about what I do, I say "You know I'm not curing cancer, but having a lot of fun making bicycle products." and some have replied with "If you helping people de-stress and get more exercise, maybe you are helping prevent cancer?"
You don’t have to have a career change or ride in events over 100+ miles to get the mental and physical health benefits that the sport of cycling offers. Many studies have been performed on the health benefits of cycling. The following research links come from PeopleForBikes.org.
Health benefits of bicycling :
A 30 minute round trip bicycle commute is associated with better mental health in men.
Active commuting that incorporates cycling and walking is associated with an overall 11% reduction in cardiovascular risk.
According to the federal government, biking for transportation can count toward the minimum 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended for physical health. It is also listed as the safest way to get physical activity.
82% of bicycle commuters believe their health has improved since they started bicycle commuting.
Women who walk or bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer.
30-60 minutes of daily physical activity such as biking to work is associated with low blood pressure in women and low hypertension in both genders.
Countries with the highest levels of cycling and walking generally have the lowest obesity rates.
Bassett, Jr., et al., 2008 - Walking, cycling, and obesity rates in Europe, North America, and Australia, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 5, 795-814
I don't think we all really need studies to understand why getting outside and moving is healthy. Afterall exercise in general is the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health. What I think distinguishes cycling from other popular exercising regimes is that you can tweak it to your liking and ability. Also you can enter into cycling at a relatively low cost. You don’t need a $3000 bike and all the fancy gear to enjoy the health benefits of riding. Some people love to mountain bike, some folks like to cruise the beach and others are all about the speed and efficiency offered by today’s latest technology in road biking.
The point is, I've haven't found another sport that helps me enjoy my community, clears my mind, strengthens my body and reduces my carbon footprint.
If you are curious but don't have the coin to get knee deep in the sport, I recommend renting a bike a few times or purchasing something used and inexpensive off of a site like Craigslist or at a garage sale. After you have decided that the hobby of bicycling is for you, perhaps buy a better bike from a bike store where a bike can be fitted for your maximum comfort level and then build a riding routine that you enjoy rather than feel obligated to achieve.