Excerpt from http://www.dummies.com/
Quite possibly, a million good reasons to ride a bicycle exist. But to keep this article from getting too long, here are the current ten best reasons to bike.
Being fit means having a healthy, strong heart and being able to exert muscles for an extended period. It means having some strength in muscles but, depending on what exercise you do, it doesn’t necessarily mean strength in all of them. To have a healthy, strong heart, you have to get it working and then let it rest. Working at half your heart’s capability is good, but exercising it at 70 to 80 per cent of your is when you start making a real difference.
Cycling is one of the best kinds of exercise for keeping fit. It always raises your heart rate, and you can vary how much your heart works simply by how fast you go or the kind of cycling you do. After you’ve been riding for a while, you find you can do certain things more easily — maybe ride over a hill or chase after someone on a road bike. You’re less out of breath and don’t feel so exhausted after such activities. This change comes about because your heart becomes stronger, delivering more oxygen-filled blood with each beat (or pump), and your muscles have grown, too, and can now do more work.
Gaining this extra strength and experiencing less suffering with exertion is all a part of fitness. When you become fit, you can produce sudden bursts of energy — perhaps running for a bus or fleeing from a rhinoceros — without any bad effects. So, the more you ride your bike, the fitter you get and the less likely you are to be caught by mad rhinos.
Being fit gives you feelings of both mental and physical confidence: it makes you feel good. When you get fit, you can feel proud of the efforts you’ve made and the level of fitness you’ve achieved, you feel more in control and your body is able to relax more when you’re resting. You keep feeling better all the time — and all you have to do to get this feeling is ride your bicycle.
Everyone needs to have fun, but having fun isn’t just about idle merriment. The more fun you have when you do something, the better you’re likely to do it. If you don’t have fun, you become alienated. If you don’t have fun at work, you won’t do your job as well. Fun is one of the most important aspects of your life. It turns ordinary activities into things you can enjoy. Fun is pleasure with excitement.
And one thing anyone who rides a bike will tell you is that cycling is fun. Cyclists start riding a bike and enjoy it — it amuses somehow and continues to do so always. So enjoy the pleasure of cycling.
Cycling is not like driving. Riding a bicycle is a happy pursuit. It puts you in a good frame of mind, open to ideas and ready to meet people. When you ride on your own, perhaps humming a happy tune, and you find yourself rolling along next to some other contented peddler going your way, if you don’t speak first, that other cyclist is bound to speak to you.
Like hikers meeting on a country path, the natural human response is to greet another person and pass the time of day. Most cyclists do it, and saying ‘Hello’ is not just a cute, rustic thing — you know you’ve got something in common with this other person so you’re already off to a good start.
If you don’t happen to make friends when out riding, joining a cycling group will certainly expand your social sphere. Once again, you’ve all got a shared passion, but with a specialized cycling group, this passion becomes more than just riding bikes. If you join a group that does some particular kind of riding, you start off with even more in common. It may be riding along country trails, riding fast on roads or hurtling through narrow gaps between trees, but you all love it — and what better way to bond?
See the world
Travel around the planet at high speed and you tick off an awful lot of places — but ride a bicycle and you see and experience far more. When you practice a bit and build up your fitness, you can cover long distances on a bicycle. All you need to see the world is the right bike, a map and time.
Bicycles can go practically anywhere. They aren’t terribly good in deep water, but bikes can take on just about any kind of land. And as you ride along, you see all the little details that make up a real world. You see how people live and work. You see what plants are growing, and your quiet progress may enable you to slowly creep up on timid animals and shy birds.
Travel to the great cities of the world and you see bicycles everywhere. And as you pedal past them all, you’ll know that when you went out to see the world, you really did — because you saw it on a bicycle.
Become an environmental crusader
Car travel accounts for nearly 60 per cent of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the UK produced by transport, a figure that could easily be reduced. A whopping 70 per cent of all the journeys people make are under five miles (eight kilometers), and well over half these journeys are made by car. Almost all of them could be replaced by a bike ride that would take 20 minutes or less.
Cars produce more carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur oxides and hydrocarbons than any other source in our cities. A recent study suggests that air pollution from traffic causes 5,000 premature deaths each year in the UK, with many more cases of unnecessary and unpleasant diseases. That makes traffic pollution more than twice as deadly as traffic accidents. People in built-up areas bear the brunt of this.
Air pollution also has a huge effect on plant life everywhere. Pollution damages the cell structure of leaves, restricts photosynthesis (where plants use the power of light to help them ‘breathe’) and harms crops.
The immediate production of toxic gases is only the start. The pollution and use of non-renewable resources in the production of motor vehicles is colossal when compared with what it takes to make a bicycle: The stuff it takes to produce one car can turn out 70 to 100 bikes.
No one knows when cheap oil is going to run out. It could be in your lifetime. If not, oil is even more likely to run out in the lifetime of your children. When it does, there’s going to be big trouble, but you’re far better off if you start preparing now for not having easy access to petrol. Learn to travel under your own steam to help our society change for the better and lessen the harm being done by the massive and wasteful use of non-renewable fuels.
Madonna does it with her bodyguard. Surprisingly, Johnny Depp does it in quite an old-fashioned way. Angelina Jolie does it with pouting lips. Bob Dylan still does it, even though he’s getting quite old. These guys are pretty cool anyway, but they’re even cooler when they get on their bicycles and pedal. They’ve all been hooked by the allure of cycle-chic.
When you ride your bicycle, it doesn’t matter whether you’re going faster or slower than anyone else. It doesn’t even matter what you’re wearing. Riding a bike just has something that sets you apart, above and beyond. It gives you a style that’s hard to define, and it inspires admiration and respect. It’s the ‘awesome’ factor, and it lies in your lap when you slip into the saddle.