I love to ride my bike. I love other things too. I love my family, my animals, and my job. I love other forms of exercise and recreation as well - I even ran marathons for a time. Even though I don’t run anymore (due to injury) I still love and miss it, but I don’t love any of those things like I love riding my bike. I’m not trying to tell you I love riding my bike more than I love my family. I’m just saying that it’s a different kind of feeling when I ride my bike. It’s one that’s been with me since childhood, when I first learned to ride. The emotions experienced when coasting down a hill with the wind in my hair, almost defying gravity, are ones I can’t easily put into words. On the first ride of the season every spring I feel like a kid riding my bike again because all those childhood emotions come rushing back (for a few minutes at least) and I experience the pure joy I had as a kid again.
Like many of my long term relationships biking and I have taken breaks. The longest was about 25 years. I stopped riding my bike when I was a teen, and although I taught each of my boys to ride a bike I did not return to the saddle until about 5 years ago. The old saying about once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget is completely true. I spent a few wobbly moments but then it all came back to me in a rush of emotion and joy. Clearly the break from from this great recreation was too long.
Since then I've ridden with my husband on 40-mile plus rides and ridden everywhere with my kids. I won’t race on a bike like I did when I ran. I’m a mom and racing on a vehicle at over 30 miles an hour is not my idea of fun, but that doesn't stop me from pushing the limits every now and again when I’m feeling the “need for speed”.
When we were kids we rode our bikes everywhere; the world seemed to be more bike friendly. Kids roamed more in those days - but that’s a subject for another post. The thing is that kids don’t ride bikes like they used to. Biking for fun is on the decline. Cycling for exercise is on the increase so there is hope, but I worry about those that don’t experience that joy of freedom and independence when they are young. That brings me to another true old saying: you’re never too old to learn! Here are a few motivating and compelling reasons you should get on a bike if you are interested in living a self reliant, green, healthy or preparedness lifestyle .
18 Ways Owning A Bike Can Prepare You For Anything
Know How To Ride If You Ever Need To--Learning to ride now will prevent a learning curve later if you ever need to know how to ride a bike. There are several situations you might find yourself in that might require you to learn to ride. It’s better to learn in a low pressure situation than a high pressure situation later.
Easy To Build--There is a bit of a learning curve, but not much - especially if you like to tinker. Bikes are relatively easy to build even when you don’t have the proper parts. You can engineer other parts to work. Of course your homemade bike won’t win the Tour de France but it would get the job done, especially if it were build for a specific job. Knowing the basic mechanics behind how a bike works is a valuable skill.
Easy To Fix--This goes along with easy to build but deserves it’s own category. Even if you don’t think you can build a bike you can certainly learn to fix one. This might save you money and headaches, especially if you are riding a bike to save money on gas in the first place. The mechanics of a bicycle are not as complicated as those of a car or motorcycle engine and the parts are cheaper too.
Off Grid No Fuel Required--Bikes don’t rely on fossil fuel or any other fuel that can be in scarce supply. All you need to do to ride is to transfer the energy from your feet to the petals. You don’t have to depend on anything other than moving your feet. That means they are EMP, oil crisis, and rising gas price proof. They are a great way to get around faster than you can on foot in such a crisis.
Easy To Transport--Unlike cars or motorcycles bikes are relatively light. Some can even be carried over rough terrain. Even if yours is too heavy to carry it will be a lot easier to transport than a bigger vehicle, saving energy and headache.
Faster Than Walking Or Running--Of course you always have your legs to get you from one place to another but sometimes you need a little speed. Under the right conditions you can make really good time on a bike and still have energy left over if you need it once you get to where you are going.
Able To Carry Supplies--You can carry supplies on a bike or with a bike. I've written about water storage and obtaining water in a grid down situation. Moving water from one place to another would be much easier with a bike. Of course, you can save money on gas and take a bike trailer to the grocery store too. You don’t have to wait for an emergency to take advantage of what you can do with a bike.
Able To Carry Another Person--Although it does take some practice you could potentially carry another person on your bike or with a bike trailer. This might be a valuable asset in a grid down situation where it is hard to move injured people or people with limited mobility.
Relatively Quiet--Bikes don’t really contribute to noise pollution and they don’t make a lot of sound to give away your location. So you might say they fit into a green living or a tactical situation with ease. See how versatile they are?
Can Go Over Rougher Terrain Than Cars--Bikes can pretty much go everywhere a car can go, but in general cars can’t really go everywhere that bikes can go. You might have a little trouble in a sandy area but they make special bike tires for that. Bikes can go over rougher, tighter and steeper terrain.
Good Exercise--This point really needs no explanation. We all need more exercise and sunshine. Get on a bike and help your heart and muscles feel better!
Practice Makes Perfect--If you are riding at least weekly then you would probably have little to no problem stepping up your game if the situation called for it.
Build Up Endurance To Bike Or To Do Anything Else--Of course you can build up your endurance by doing other kinds of exercise, but if you’re biking 50 miles a week to save money (or to save the Earth) you’re also building up your endurance in case you ever are in a situation that calls for exerted energy. Besides, it’s easier on the ankles than running - ask me how I know!
Fun--I think I covered this above, but I’ll say it again. Biking is fun especially if you biked as a kid. But don’t take my word for it. Go get on a bike and ride around for a few minutes. I’m telling you, it’s great!
Saves Money And Energy--Riding a bike saves money. It’s that simple. When I was a kid my dad rode a bike to work because we only had one car and he liked to leave it with my mom. So my parents saved money by only having one car. It might not be possible for you to bike to work but on the weekend biking is cheaper than filling up a motorcycle or a motorboat or any other recreational vehicle.
Biking Lanes And Safety Will Increase If More People Take Up Biking--Like anything else the more popular an activity becomes the more likely our society will accommodate it. That means that the more people who have bikes and ride them the more biking lanes will be created and the more safety issues will improve. Just look at how much more bike-friendly many European countries are!
Different Kinds Of Bikes--If riding along side moving cars scares you to death then maybe you’d prefer to take up dirt biking or trail riding. That’s the beauty of biking, you don’t have to ride on the street if you don’t want to. You can find a bike that will go on practically any terrain. You can even get a folding bike to take with you on cruise ships or airplanes, saving money on taxis and other transportation.
Gears Or No Gears--If you still think riding and maintaining a bike is too expensive consider getting a single-speed bike. It doesn't get much simpler and your cost and learning curve for maintenance goes down considerably. A bonus is that a single-speed bike is actually simpler to ride and can be better exercise.
Of course, riding a bike is not a perfect solution. You still have to worry about weather and injuries. Yes, you can fall off of a bike and in a grid down situation that might be a pretty big problem, especially if you break something. However, the pros still outweigh the cons, and if you're an experienced rider your chances of injury go down considerably. Weather could always be a problem no matter what vehicle you decide to use so letting rain or snow deter you from biking seems like more of an excuse than an argument against taking up this fun activity.
You’ll also need some gear that you might not need with other vehicles, like a helmet and some reflective clothing. But these things are still cheaper than buying gas or feed. Yes, I know you were thinking about how a bike might compare to a horse for transportation! I’d say a horse would come in a pretty close second, but that’s just because I love animals and especially horses. The problem with the whole "get a horse instead of a bike" idea is that it’s just not practical for most people. While most people can obtain a bike, even if they don’t have a car, most people can not keep a horse.
When was the last time you rode a bike? Do your kids know how to ride?