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Cycling To Work For Your Health

My bike was once my car. As a kid and young teen it took me everywhere. Sometimes I think that the worse thing that ever happened to me was the day I got my driverís license. Sure, cars are a major step up and can take you places a bicycle cannot, but I often miss the freedom of being able to just jump on my bike and head out without worrying about gas prices, engine trouble or being stuck in traffic. It seems that I am not the only one who feels that way because according to a recent study, more people are bicycling their way to work than ever before.

Itís not just about the freedom and convenience of riding a bicycle that makes it attractive to people; Itís the fact that they get an excellent workout to and from work without really having to think about it. The average person living in an urban or suburban area who uses their bicycle to get to work rides it from about two to ten miles one way. Thatís an excellent daily exercise that builds endurance and produces the kind of cardio workout that improves the chances for good heart health. Even if you only bike to work two or three times a week, that is still a great way to stay fit.

If you do plan on trying to bike to work it will take some time for you to ďget back up one the horse,Ē as the old saying goes. We are all supposed to drive defensively when weíre behind the wheel of a car, but being on a bike means watching out for what everyone else is doing and making sure that distracted drivers see you. Wearing a brightly colored (but non-reflective) helmet is a good start. A reflective helmet can shine the sun into the eyes of a driver long enough for that person to miss seeing you and letís face it: If a car hits a bicycle the car and driver will probably come away with less damage than the bicycle and cyclist. A lot of cyclists take the added precaution of wearing a safety vest with brightly colored strips on it to be sure that they are seen.

If you are going to bike to work be sure to plan ahead. Most people are afraid to bike because they worry about sweat and body odor. A lot of work places now offer a shower for their employees who bike to work or work out during lunch or free time. If not, most fitness clubs near your workplace have one available. Just be sure to bring some of the personal essentials you will need with you like soap, towels, anti-perspirant and the like, or leave those in a locker at work or at the fitness club. If you wear a backpack you can bring a change of clothes or, again, have some available when you arrive.

If you have just decided to begin biking to work and need some wheels, you do not have to spend a fortune to get back on the road. The key is to choose a bike that will allow you the comfort and support needed for a potentially long ride. Common sense also comes into play: You do not need a two thousand dollar mountain bike to ride through the streets of your city or navigate the concrete canyons of your local metropolis. In fact, a mountain bike would not do you much good under those circumstances. A good touring bike or everyday inexpensive riding machine with enough gears for comfortable peddling will get the job done.

If you are unfamiliar with simple bike repairs, get familiar with them. It will save you time and money. Despite the hassles, changing a flat on a bike is still easier than changing one on a motorized vehicle and a lot less work if you know what you are doing. Sometimes fixing a flat just means having a simple bicycle tire patch kit with you, along with a can of compressed air or fix-a-flat for bikes (or you always bring one of those small hand air pumps that fit right on the frame of your bike). Having the right tools usually means just having one or two small wrenches that fit your bikeís needs.

Biking to work or for recreation is all about being aware of the environment and traffic around you. Choose a predetermined bike lane or route when it is available, and avoid jumping curbs or other bike tire abuses when it is not. Think of your bicycle as an extensive or your body and treat it with the same respect. Be mindful of things like tire pressure and weather conditions which can easily drain the pleasure from any ride and always know and obey the rules of the road for cars and bicycles. Apart from all that, good biking!


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