When in Doubt, Pedal it Out


“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
—Albert Einstein

Acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity, and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean, and environmentally-fit sustainable means of transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 3 June World Bicycle Day.

Parked in my apartment’s entrance are two bicycles, lovingly taken care of by my husband who has taken on cycling a couple of years back; well into the COVID-19 days. We were lucky not to lose anyone to the pandemic and to also have had the chance to shelter in place in our beach house; those days of quiet and nature away from city life were a true blessing.

Both of us got to reconnect with several hobbies and interests we had neglected in the hustle and bustle of our hectic daily lives; we also explored new things. For me, I returned to reading books daily rather than just on weekends, and to painting and handcrafts; I also experienced a technological awakening and a deep dive into the online world. For my husband, it was physical activity: running, swimming, and cycling.

He started out renting a bicycle and joining short leisure in-city rides on the weekends. He enjoyed the activity so much, he bought his first bicycle, a hybrid, which is easier to ride for beginners; riding it became his favorite pastime. As the rides got longer and more athletic, and as he got better at the sport, he bought the second, more professional, lighter, and faster road bicycle, which he now rides on inter-city rides.

I have only recently gotten back to exercising—better late than never—but I do not think I will ever get into cycling. I never learned how to ride a bike and I have a terrible fear of falling and hurting myself. It might not make sense, but everyone has their own weird limitations! That is why I endlessly admire my husband and anyone with any extent of athletic tendency that they passionately act on, on regular basis. Sports and athleticism are the true elixir of life.

Choose Cycling for Yourself

In addition to being fun, it only takes 2-4 hours of cycling a week to achieve a general improvement in one’s health. Cycling:

  • Uses all of the major muscle groups;
  • Does not require high levels of physical skill;
  • Increases stamina, strength, and aerobic fitness;
  • Causes less strain and injuries than most other exercise forms;
  • Can be done at very low intensity to begin with, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.

Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels, and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire, and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level.

The health benefits of regular cycling include increased cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and flexibility; strengthened bones; improved joint mobility, posture, and coordination; decreased body fat levels; prevention or management of disease; as well as decreased stress levels.

Choose Cycling for Planet and People

In addition to being economic, as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sitting time spent driving or riding motor vehicles with healthy exercise; a significant enhancement to the quality of a person’s life. Even more significant is the improvement of the quality of the environment said person and all people on the planet enjoy and benefit from.

Bicycle riding uses minimal fossil fuels and is a pollution-free mode of transport. Riding a commuter bike to work will lower your greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 3000 pounds every year—not only safeguarding your health but also that of your community. It conserves roadway and residential space, thereby providing opportunities for less concrete and more plant life in urban areas. It also means fewer cars, which can lead to a safer road environment. Moreover, bikes reduce the need to build, service, and dispose of cars.

Choose Cycling Safely

A disadvantage of outdoor cycling is the risk of an accident, whether in an urban or rural area; keep the following in mind to stay safe:

  • When possible, ride in lanes reserved for cyclists or on neighborhood streets and always follow traffic laws.
  • Use caution while going through intersections and busy areas, even if you have the right of way.
  • Invest in a quality helmet and any other protective gear you may need.
  • Avoid wearing any loose clothing that could get caught in your bike chains.
  • Use bike lights and reflective gear for nighttime or early morning cycling.
  • If cycling is your mode of transportation, invest in rain and cold weather gear and have a backup transportation plan for when conditions are unsafe for riding.
  • For extended daytime rides, use sunscreen on all exposed skin an reapply every two hours, especially if you are sweating. Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a hat; consider investing in UV-protective clothing.
  • It is advisable to have a case of emergency maintenance tools and pump attached to your bike, especially on long rides or rides outside of the city.

It is possible to cycle every day, especially if you use your bicycle for transportation or ride at a low intensity. Take a break if you experience pain, fatigue, or muscle soreness. If you are cycling for fitness, you may want to give yourself at least one full day of rest each week, especially if your rides are longer or higher in intensity.

Recovery is necessary to prevent injury and enhance performance. If you have any injuries that cycling will affect, it is best to stay off the bike until you fully recover. Talk with your doctor if you have any conditions that cycling may affect.



Images: Freepik.com

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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