With the traffic situation in the Metro being what it is, and the time dedicated to exercise being harder and harder to prioritize for many a city-dweller, the practical aspects of learning to ride a bicycle aren’t very difficult to explain. What isn’t immediately obvious, however, is why more people aren’t riding them. Here are ten facts that just may help you decide to get in the saddle.
In a world that is becoming progressively smaller as humanity becomes ever more interconnected, there remains a certain kind of freedom that is associated with the bicycle. Whether you’re riding a mountain bike, a road bike, a fixed gear, or a racer, there is no mistaking the appeal of being able to watch the scenery go by at a speed and pace of your own choosing. Unfettered from the demands of social media, gasoline and, to a degree, traffic, there are few sports – few activities, even – that are able to convey the thrill of motion in as pure or as direct a manner.
Invented roughly 200 years ago, the bicycle is a wonder of human ingenuity and engineering, representing what physics considers to be one of the most efficient machines on the planet, where 90% of the energy expended in pushing the pedals goes towards moving the rider forward. To put things in perspective, if today’s cars could get that kind of mileage out of gasoline, a full tank would last just under four times longer.
Ironically, while physics does a great job to explain the energy efficiency of the bicycle, it remains unable to come up with any sort of explanation as to what keeps it upright and balanced when the vehicle is in motion. All scientists can say is, it works, and it works very well, thank you very much!
Science notwithstanding, you’ll probably be having too much fun with your bike to give it much thought anyway, as there is literally a bicycle to go with every size, shape, and type of rider out there. For city riders and those who like to get out of town once in a while, there are mountain bikes, designed for city roads and mixed surfaces, respectively. For those who want to relax, there are recreational bikes, such as the fixed gear models that are currently popular. For the competition cyclist, pricey road, or racing bikes made of space age materials are the way to go.
For more information about bikes, you may visit websites like specialized.com/ph and biketradesph.com or you may visit bike shops like the All Terra Cyclery and Bikezilla in Ortigas or Paulina’s in Pasay.
With no fuels or emissions to speak of, the environmental friendliness and viability of bicycles as a means of transportation are among the the vehicle’s main selling points apart from the fitness benefits.
In Manila, where automobiles are often reduced to air-conditioned means of burning gas to go nowhere fast, the ability to zip across short distances unhindered is a definite benefit. Furthermore, a study by the International Bicycle Fund found that commuters who switched to riding their bikes to and from work lost an average of 13 pounds in their first year. Give it a try – not only will you get to know your area better, you just may be surprised by how close to each other most places in Manila actually are!
On the fitness front, while there’s no denying the benefits of a good run, hitting the jogging trail may not be the best initial option for those looking to lose weight. Unfortunately, the bulk they’re trying to reduce will cause unavoidable stress (roughly two and a half times actual body weight) on their joints with every step. By starting off with cycling, you can get into the swing of exercise, minus the painful side effects and chance of injury.
That being said, whether you’re cycling for leisure or fitness, you’ll be getting all the benefits of a great cardio workout which, in the long run, will reduce your heart rate, lower the blood pressure, and improve endurance. While actual numbers will vary based on speed and body weight, the average 180lb male cycling at a moderate rate can burn approximately 650 calories per hour.
Whether you choose to join a team, sign up for a tour, or even just go out with your own family members, there’s more potential enjoyment to be had when it’s undertaken as a group, as the camaraderie and support of those around you will motivate you to go beyond your limits!
When all is said and done, riding a bike is just about one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do, with opportunities abound for fitness, meeting new people, family bonding, transportation, and discovery, we’re actually surprised more people aren’t into it already!