The “Running machine,” designed and built in 1818, was a wooden two-wheeled contraption propelled by straddling the device and walking. Named after its inventor Karl Drais, it’s sometimes referred to as the velocipede, draisine, draisienne, or by its nickname the dandy horse. It is the forerunner of today’s bicycle.
From that invention, we have evolved from a world where only the wealthy could afford such a contraption to a world where bicycles are commonplace. Bicycle parking racks can be found at universities, libraries, play grounds, and shopping plazas. Bicycles are becoming the fastest-growing method of commuting to work, and bicycle-friendly communities are on the rise.
Today, there are many types of bicycles. Function, sport, frame type, number of gears, number of riders, and rider position categorize them.
During National Bike Month, in May of every year since 1956, we celebrate bicycling’s many benefits. It’s a great time of the year to consider taking up the sport.
As kids our bicycles provided us with the freedom to ride everywhere and do most anything without being dependent on a parent to get us there. My brother and I and a couple of friends would often ride to a town about 10 miles away to go to a movie and have a hot dog and ice cream at the drug store next to the theater. We rode to carnivals, amusement parks, our favorite swimming hole, to go fishing, or just to have fun riding all over town. Later, when we were older, we rode to meet up with girls. Without a bicycle, childhood would not have been the same.
As an adult, I have always rode a crossover bicycle (usually classified as a hybrid) because I primarily ride off-road and venture into fields, meadows, winding trails, pathways along streams, and onto woodland and wetland dirt roads. Other than a helmet, I don’t wear spandex or biking gloves, use or don any of the other doodads adorned by some bicyclist.
Now retired, weather permitting, I will grab my bike bag with camera safely tucked inside, strap it to my bike, mount, and head out for the fun of another adventure.
As when I was a kid, I ride for no other purpose than the love and fun of riding my bicycle.
Cycling can offer some important benefits as well: it improves cardio-vascular health, it reduces stress, it’s the best way to get to know your community, and it’s the easiest way to exercise and burn significant calories.
I have been riding a bicycle for over 70 years, so, you can take it from me, bicycling is also an activity you can enjoy throughout life.