I was out for a bicycle ride with a friend today. After watching a few young kids learning to cycle, we started reminiscing about our first experience on bicycles. She used the “crash until you can balance and pedal” method, and I actually couldn’t remember my first pedal strokes to the freedom that riding a bicycle provides. I do remember racing up and down the street we lived on until the street lights came on and it was time to go home.
All of this got me thinking about the bicycle and cycling. I realized that I had no idea when the first bike was invented so I looked it up. It turns out the bicycle has a complicated past. One bit of information says a 4-wheeled version was created in 1418, and then in 1817 a two wheeled version was invented. Of course it was nothing like the bicycles of today. It had wood wheels and weighed as much as 50 lbs. It wasn’t until the 1870’s when John Kemp Starley designed a bike that was more comfortable to ride.
Bicycles became very popular in the late 1800’s but then interest shifted to the automobile in the early 1900’s. It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that adults became interested in bikes again as many people began to see cycling as a healthier option, both physically and environmentally, to the car as means of transportation and recreation.
In the last 10 years there has been a huge boom in the popularity of cycling. There are now bikes for every type of use that you can imagine. If you’re looking to get back into the saddle and you want to purchase a new bike it is best to do your research before heading into a bike shop. Here are some questions to answer before your first visit:
- What is your budget? In answering this know that the saying “you get what you pay for” applies here. The less expensive the bike the less enjoyable it is to ride. I’m not saying break the bank, but put off buying a bike until you can save up for one that you will want to ride.
- What kind riding would you like to do? When answering this questions think of the type of surface you want to ride on (road, gravel, rocks, snow, etc.) and how far or long (minutes, hours, days, weeks) you’d like to ride for.
- How will you want to ride in 3 – 5 years from now? If there’s a chance that cycling could become the passion you’ve been searching for purchase a bike that will let you grow into that passion.
- What size of bike do I need? This is the most important part of the equation. If the bike doesn’t fit it won’t be comfortable to ride and you won’t want to ride it. There is information online about proper bike fit. A good bike shop will guide you in finding a bike that fits you well.
There are so many benefits to cycling. There really is nothing like travelling under your own power. Sometimes I feel like I could be competing in the Tour du France. The reality is that only happens when the wind is at my back or I’m flying down a hill. Still, there is some weird type of empowering feeling that comes with riding into a strong headwind or up a steep climb.
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