This weekend has been beautiful riding weather and I got to put in 4 hours of recreational riding. Most of my time in the saddle was spent taking in the sight and sounds of the open road/trying to hang onto the back tire of the rider in front of me, but the rest was spent contemplating my thoughts for the day. For some reason I was thinking about my progression in cycling and how my reasons for cycling has evolved.
When I first began seriously cycling, at grad school in Gainesville, it was strictly about time, money, and common sense. We had an apartment 2 miles from the architecture studio and it took longer to drive, park, and walk than it did to just roll down the road and pull up to the classroom door. Of course it also saved me on gas and parking tags, so it was a no brainer to ride in.
When I moved to Orlando, these same reasons for cycling continued, since I was again living 2 miles from where I worked and could save time in getting there and saving money on gas parking fees. It was also at this time that I started to trail ride and ride more for recreation. This encouraged me to ride more often and to explore the sport holistically. I also concluded that if not for anything else I was riding for the health of our environment and sold my truck to become strictly a bicycle commuter.
In the past year I started road riding and doing group rides for sport and recreation. I always knew that riding a bicycle was great for physical fitness, but I hadn't been training specifically for speed and endurance until then. The aerobic activity is great for heart health and the low impact pedaling is much better for joints than running or court sports. It is a completely different mentality when you are performing a task that challenges yourself personally and you can set goals that only you can control and achieve.
So it seems that cycling saves me money every time that I ride (no car payment, insurance, gas, parking, maintenance, etc). It saves me time in my commute to work by giving me a direct route from door to door. It helps the downtown automobile congestion by having one less vehicle on the road. I am doing my part in helping the environment by not adding exhaust and carbon from fossil fuels. I am not adding to the noise pollution from automobiles and I am making my neighborhood feel more pedestrian friendly. Finally, I am personally keeping my heart and joints healthy and am living an active lifestyle.
As I look back at where I have been and how I have progressed, I think that right now I don't have any reasons not to bike. I think if someone asks me "Are you still riding your bike into work?", I will have to respond with the line I have heard other cyclists give, "Are you still driving your car?". Cycling is more than just a way to get around, it is a lifestyle and is a benefit to all.