Do you want to get fit, save the environment and feel like a kid again? It may be as simple as going from four wheels to two.
Biking is a great way to get exercise while saving the environment. Whether you're going to work, the grocery or just out of the house, a bicycle can be a wonderful alternative. And there is a pair of wheels for everyone, no matter how old.
"Bicycles aren't going away, and we're going to see their usage increase as time goes on," says Michael De Leon, public relations manager for Cycling Sports Group.
De Leon says he has seen a lot of encouragement for bike riding. Cities are investing in new infrastructures to encourage people to ride bikes, and universities are trying to reduce the numbers of cars on their campuses. Some even are offering free bicycles to those who don't bring their cars to campus. It is a trend that has been popular for a long time in Europe, and now it's coming stateside once more.
"Our culture finally is grasping onto this more than a century-old technology of bicycles," he says.
Whether you never have rode a bike or want to get back on, there are many choices available to make your shift back to biking a fun one and selecting the right bike an easy process.
First, decide what you are going to do with your bike and what you need it to do. Are you going to take back roads or stick to city streets? Will you be going up and down hills? How far will you be riding it? Factoring in usage will help you determine what type of bike you're looking for.
You can research online or visit your local bike shop to see what types of bikes are available. If you are visiting a bike shop, talk to one of the employees. The employees will be well-versed in all the different types of bicycles and will make recommendations based on what you need your bicycle to do, from what type of material you should have your bike made out of to whether a women's bike is right for your body type.
If you want to get your bike on sale at a shop, usually the fall is a safe bet, according to Bicycling magazine. As the riding season ends, new models of bicycles will be introduced, and the older models will be discounted. Last year's bikes most likely will be as good as the new bikes they are introducing -- as long as there are no dramatic redesigns for a particular model.
Wearing a helmet may be the law in many states for people younger than 18, but for adults riding a bike, it's a good idea to wear one, too. It protects your head while biking, especially if you take a nasty fall. De Leon says that no matter where he's going on his bike, even just to the local coffee shop, he always wears one. Also, if you plan to ride at night, you may want to consider reflective strips for your clothing and a light for your bicycle.
Depending on what type of biking you plan to do, there is other protective gear, such as gloves for blistering and special clothes to wear during biking trips.
There are plenty of accessories available for your bike beyond the bell and frilly basket from when you were a kid. Packs that fit over the back wheel are perfect for when you want to carry groceries home, and there are trailers that you can attach to pull younger kids along with you for a bike ride.
For the kids who are old enough to ride themselves, there are plenty of bikes for them, and you will be able to join them on weekend bike rides and other family outings. It will help establish the habit while they're young, and your children can do it for as long as they want.
"It's truly an activity that can be done for your entire life," De Leon says.