April 30, 2012
Yes, I rode a bicycle around the neighborhood when I was 10, but I have a confession to make. While I hit the trails on a regular basis these days, it's a love that was only re-ignited 3 years ago. After saving up for a while, I decided to take a vacation to Denmark in 2009. Why Denmark? Why not?
At any rate, bicycling is a lot bigger over there. In several places, they have roads dedicated to bicycles, fully equipped with traffic lights! Public transportation, like most other things Danish, is kind of expensive. It's more economical to bike if you don't have to travel very far. I'm all for saving a krone or two and being adventurous!
I'd be lying if I told you I didn't fall a couple of times. It would also be dishonest to suggest that I didn't enjoy myself though! I was only in the country for a week, but I found myself improving during that short period of time. I felt very nervous at times (not all roads have a handy dandy bike road). At one point, I stopped to walk my bike down an especially steep hill (better than falling, right?) Nevertheless, many of my fondest memories from the trip involve me on two wheels, pedaling through streets where the words the wind carries are completely foreign and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.
My point is that anyone can purchase a bicycle and learn to ride! I'd consider my initiation into biking to be trial by fire. You can hit one of the many trails around Kansas City and experience a similar rush. That sweet ache in your thighs...the wind on your face...the beauty of the world putting you in the perfect frame of mind. I'm convinced that just about anyone can develop a love of biking. It's great exercise! If you live close to work, you might even consider commuting by bike when the weather is nice. Just make sure you're visible to drivers. Wear bright, reflective clothing, make sure your bike has front and rear reflectors, and consider getting actual bike lights if you'll be biking at night. Perhaps engaging in a bit of it yourself will make you more aware of bicyclists when you're the one behind the wheel.
Wondering what kind of bike is best for you? Think about what you plan to use your bike for. Here are some basic guidelines for choosing the right bike:
- Consider the terrain you'll be riding over.
- Choose a bicycle that is appropriate for your height.
- Keep in mind that lighter bicycles are easier to lift in and out of a car rack (if you plan on getting one).
MCPL also boasts a wealth of biking-related resources. If you'd like some literature prior to purchasing a bike, here are a few books to get you started:
- Bikes; a How-To-Do-It Guide to Selection, Care, Repair, Maintenance, Decoration, Safety, and Fun on Your Bicycle by Stephen C. Henkel
- The Big Book of Bicycling: Everything You Need to Know from Buying Your First Bike to Riding Your Best by Emily Furia
- The Practical Cyclist: Bicycling for Real People by Chip Haynes
- Bicycling, a Reintroduction: A Visual Guide to Choosing, Repairing, Maintaining & Operating a Bicycle by Karen Ruth
Finally, if bicycling is really something you're ready to get into, you should check out BikeWalkKC. This great organization hosts rides for a number of different causes, works to urge the development of bicyclist and pedestrian-conscious roadways, and provides bike safety courses.
North Independence Branch