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Why ride a bicycle? Even more reasons

Jill Janov’s January 17 article, “Why ride a bike? Ten reasons and counting,” must’ve struck a chord out there – we were deluged with e-mail from readers who eagerly provided their own rationales, which ranged from the spiritual to the technological to the Darwinian. A few samples follow. Enjoy the ride. – Editor My brother pointed me to your article about 10 reasons to ride a bike. He is a person who will take his 16-pound road bike on a 50-mile ride, just for run. I am still one of the unenlightened, in the "carrying potatoes" group. I commute to work on the average of 3.6 days per week,

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Jill Janov’s January 17 article, “Why ride a bike? Ten reasons and counting,” must’ve struck a chord out there – we were deluged with e-mail from readers who eagerly provided their own rationales, which ranged from the spiritual to the technological to the Darwinian. A few samples follow. Enjoy the ride. – Editor

My brother pointed me to your article about 10 reasons to ride a bike. He is a person who will take his 16-pound road bike on a 50-mile ride, just for run. I am still one of the unenlightened, in the “carrying potatoes” group. I commute to work on the average of 3.6 days per week, and my reason for riding a bike is … so I can put off spending money on car repairs. So there you have it, a sorry admission, biking for the sake of my car. When I’m trying to show off, I sometimes bring out the good-sounding reasons:

To keep President Cheney’s mitts off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

To keep my commuting time to zero; I just magically appear at work after a 40-minute morning bike ride, so I figure I might as well stay there.

To keep myself awake at work, so I don’t have to drug myself up with coffee.

As a protest of the vast inefficiency of having to haul around a 3000-pound transportation appliance just to go somewhere, and then having to find a place to put it when I get there.

As a gesture of solidarity with my brothers and sisters of the animal world, who can get around fine under their own power.

To keep combustion byproducts, brake-pad shavings, rubber particles, and such, out of the air so my kids don’t have to breathe them.

So that, years from now, when my grandchildren are suffering from lack of fuel, or being shipped off to a war in the Middle East, and they say, “Grandpa, your generation knew we would run out of oil, why didn’t you do something?” I won’t be forced to say, “I just didn’t care; nothing, not even your life, was more important to me than being able to drive around in my own car.” At least I’ll be able to say I did what I could.

– Steven White, Bloomington, Minnesota


A C50 and a racing license is cheaper than a good therapist.

–Christopher Johnston, Excelsior, Minnesota


Because riding is like flying but with a better view.

–David A. Kellem, Hull, Massachusetts


Riding a bike is music to my body and soul. When it comes to riding, my love is chemical. After a stressful day, it sets me free, out here where I can breathe. When I’m zooming up and down my local hilly terrain, I believe I can fly. On a really good day, there ain’t no mountain high enough. I guess it just boils down to this – I’m hooked on a feeling.

–Julie Mattes


Ivan Illich wrote in “Energy and Equity”: “Man on bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calories. The bicycle is the ideal transducer to match man’s metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines, but all animals as well.” For me, a technical explanation of the joy and beauty that is bicycling!

–Nick Heinrich, Kea’au, Hawaii


I can’t do better than the Zen student. Any other answer misses the whole and collects less than the sum of the parts. Kinda like asking about my annual cleaning of the garage/mind.

–Khalil J. Spencer, Los Alamos, New Mexico


My boyfriend and I went out to ride the other day in 25-degree weather. My teenagers, totally slugged out on the couch in front of the TV, looked at us like we’d lost what’s left of our marbles. The sheer childlike pleasure of being on our bikes again, side by side, totally trumped being bundled up like Eskimos and feeling that icy wind biting into our faces. We were actually disappointed when forced to abort the ride because of too much snow. But there’s always next time . . .

–Susan Miller, Warwick, New York


I ride my bike so that I can say that I do.

–Tom Murphy, San Diego, California


Because I still can!

–Terry Nicholas, San Diego, California


My riding buddies say I have the legs of a German sprinter – and the gut of a German beer drinker. Gotta keep the legs in shape. That’s why I ride.

–Sterling Murphey, Jacksonville, Florida


I ride because it’s the only activity where I can pull some friends on a ride they don’t think they are able to do, and other friends can do the same for me.

–Karen Cavalloro, Farmington Hills, Michigan


Because it feels great! Great when I’m on the road training, great when I’m riding the Tour de Cure, great when I’m riding up Blue Mountain in the Adirondacks (and even greater on the way down on the other side!), and great when folks see me off the bike and recognize me as the old guy who passed them in traffic.

–Bill D’Anza, Rochester, New York


I ride because a bicycle is the perfect extension of the human body. Lean a bike against the wall and look at its simplicity and logic. Place your body on it, activate the pedals, crank, chain and gears. You have suddenly achieved perfect harmony. The bicycle as a tool of fitness, utility and transportation makes too much sense to ignore. Not riding would be like tickling someone and asking them not to laugh and smile. Nearly impossible.

–Ash Trace


For me? It’s really the kill instinct and I’m not the only one. If any of you long time Colorado racers knew Randy Whicker you may have noticed that he had “Kill” and “Maim” tattooed across his knuckles. I’m not quite that serious about it, but let’s face it, it’s no longer socially acceptable to savagely hunt down and attack our enemies. Luckily, bicycle racing is a viable substitute. Anyone who races knows what a great feeling it is catch the rider in front of you (and the sinking feeling you get when someone is reeling you in on the last climb). The hunter and the hunted… Oh yeah, there is nothing that compares to a good endorphin rush.

–Brian Riepe


I broke my femur in half, my left arm, and a couple fingers (not all at once) on my bike. Nothing equals the joy of silently rolling forward under my own power, no matter how fast I go. You can’t enjoy the descent without earning the climb. I ride because I can.

–Evan MacKenzie, Hillsboro, Oregon


For that brief moment in time, I can revisit my youth. That feeling of freedom, wind in your hair (less of it now) and your body being in sync with the bike.

–Mark Murphy


Never mind the fact that as a child the bike is the first form of freedom that you get. It allowed you to escape your parents, even if it was by staying on the sidewalk and never going out of their sight. You were able to travel the neighborhood and terrorize the dogs that you were normally scared of when you walked to school. Maybe it is the simple fact that in today’s world of high-speed Internet, cell phones, and SUVs it is the simplest form of transportation. The bike has really not changed in form or function in over 100 years. Or best of all … it is just damn’ cool! You have to love the tan lines, the shaved legs, and the heart beating out of your chest. The feeling of getting to the top of a climb that you have never done before. The views that you see while riding down a mountain pass or crossing a meadow … need I say more?

–Richard McAfee


My daily lunchtime ride allows me to escape the office doldrums and dolts, clearing my head for the afternoon. I confine it to an hour, before really coming to my senses and bailing out of this godforsaken place. And while others miss three, four, five days each year to illness, I cheerfully show up every single day, ready to battle the doldrums and dolts.

–Fred Crane, La Canada, California