The history of the bicycle can be traced all the way back to a sketch created by a pupil of Leonard da Vinci and from there France and Germany appear to be next to tinker around to find a way to transport humans on two wheels and a seat via pedal power. The first patent for such a contraption was issued to a German inventor, Baron Karl von Drais. And, despite some American lore, the famed Wright Brothers did not invent the bicycle, but rather owned a repair shop and began manufacturing bicycles in the late 1800s. They went on to tinker with other things!
As we celebrate National Bike Month in May, let’s look at the benefits of bicycling, some bicycle feats to possibly inspire you, and of course, some great bike rides you can consider.
First off, biking is a great low-stress exercise for your body. Speaking of stress, bicycling also decreases stress levels. It strengthens bones, decreases fat levels, increases flexibility, builds muscles, and increases cardiovascular fitness. The list of benefits goes on and on, so bicycling is an all-around winner.
If you want to challenge yourself, consider the following:
- A British man biked around the world in 79 days in 2017, while a British woman accomplished the same feat one year later in just 124 days.
- An Italian man actually rode a bike underwater, plunging down 92 feet to bike roughly 360 feet! Can you imagine the resistance to that ride?
- In the Netherlands, people say they use their bicycles for 36 percent of all urban trips. Sadly, people in the US use their bikes for less than one percent of all urban trips. Bike to work, anyone?
So, if you feel like a challenge, want to help the environment or simply partake in an easy-on-the-body, but good for your overall exercise, hop on your bike, and consider some of these trips.
California: A short little trip to Santa Barbara is what you’ll find when you hop on the Atascadero Creek Trail. It starts in Goleta Beach State Park and runs to the center of Santa Barbara.
Oregon: The Willamette River Loop is a 30-mile trek, mostly flat mix of road and pathways. As the name implies, it’s a nice loop around the river!
Massachusetts: Ocean views, cranberry bogs and the charm of the Cape await you on this 22-mile route that is the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
North Carolina: Tackle the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway that offers more than 469 miles of scenery. Be sure to check out the 25-mile scenic ride from Asheville to Brevard.
Texas: The Texas Hill Country Loop is probably one of the prettiest trails you can bike. It’s more than 331 miles in total, but day rides are a great way break up the adventure. Consider the 30-mile Luckenbach Loop, just outside Fredericksburg.
If you’re looking to bike in a specific area, check out www.traillink.com which details trails across the country!