Get on your bikes and ride for fitness and fun

Paula Reece

People ask me all the time if I ride. I assume they’re asking whether or not I ride road bikes or mountain bikes. My husband does both.

I know how to ride a bike. I’ve known how to ride my bicycle since I was a kid.  It’s a little more complicated these days, though.

There’s such a variety in biking today.  Consider that bikes now are sport specific — road bikes, racing bikes, mountain bikes and beach bikes. That’s not to mention the increasingly popular electric bikes.

Bikes are constructed with new materials that make them as lightweight as possible.  The components are designed to make sure the bike offers an ergonomically correct fit for the rider. There are new and more efficient gearing systems. Computers track just about everything the rider does, including mileage, cadence and heart rate.

There’s also new clothing and gear, including clip-in shoes, padded bike shorts, moisture wicking jerseys and gloves. The basic helmet remains the No. 1 safety item for every kind of biking. And don’t forget the water bottle.

Why has biking become such a popular sport? There are many reasons. Biking is great exercise. It’s fun to both participate in and watch. It can be individual and social. It can be performed outside and inside.

The biggest benefit of biking is that it improves your cardiovascular fitness by strengthening your heart and lungs.  Your legs, arms and core benefit by strengthening those muscle groups. In burning calories, biking also promotes weight loss.

Another benefit of biking as a form of fitness is the fun and social aspect. Exercise that develops into a hobby or even a passion is easier to stick with and perform.

Going on a bike ride offers not only great exercise, but a sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed your ride.

The key to biking is finding out which type you enjoy. Try different bikes to find one that makes you feel comfortable and safe. Have your bike fitted to your body.

When you start out with biking, go at your own pace. It takes a while to learn all the gearing mechanisms, braking and how your bike will handle. Once you become more comfortable, you’ll improve. My husband tells me: “It’s just time in the saddle.” That translates into: “You need to go biking more often.”

Since weather and schedules could keep you from outdoor riding, try to stay consistent with indoor training by taking a group cycling class. A local company called Spintertainment offers virtual reality rides while riding indoors that make you feel like you’re out on the trails. The instructor is a great motivator and guides you during your workout.

If you’re looking for a great form of exercise, look into biking. There’s sure to be a bike that fits your sport and style.