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Reasons for Riding a Bike: What Are Yours?

Last week, during my afternoon bike commute home, I met a guy on the trail. He was riding home as well and, as we got to chatting, I asked him how long he’d been riding. He replied that it’d only been about a year. This led me to ask him what got him started.

“Diabetes,” was his reply.

He explained how he’d been diagnosed and given one prescription for the diabetes and another prescription to counteract the unpleasant side-effects of the first prescription. He told me that he didn't want to live his life taking pills, so he started riding a bike and changed his diet, losing about 25 pounds in the process and, with his doctor’s approval, eventually getting off the pills. As he put it, riding had allowed him to live his life as he wanted to. It was amazing and inspiring to hear him tell his story. 

It also reminded me of a woman my mother recently met and told me about. This woman is 70+ years-old, “spry and fit and fun to talk to,” as my mom put it. She’s been riding for years and has a goal of riding 100 miles a week (at the time my mother met her, she only had 12 miles remaining for that week). For my mother, it was an inspiring encounter, as it showed her some “possibilities for old age.”



I got to thinking about all the reasons why I ride and how I got started. At times, it seems like there are too many reasons to list, but the central themes would be: fun, transportation, fitness, seeing the scenery and challenging myself. And cookies. Definitely cookies (riding reduces cookie-indulgence guilt). As a kid, my bike was my main mode of transportation until I moved to a not-so-bike-friendly area, losing touch with my bike for nearly a decade before I got into it again—mostly as a means of commuting. Something clicked, and the rest is history.

So, what about you? Why did you start riding? Why do you continue to ride? It can be a novella or a simple “because I love it.” Let’s hear your reasons for riding your bike.

Posted on at 6:30 PM

Tagged: Cycling, bicycle and commuting

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JonAssink

I bought a Novara bike about a year ago with plans of starting to ride then, but shortly there after I moved up here to Seattle and started going to school and biking kinda fell by the wayside. I picked it back up again a couple months ago and love it. I'm a bigger guy and running just kills me. I end up feeling depressed cause I can't ever go as far as I want and I'm exhausted when I finish. Biking has given me a chance to feel like I'm accomplishing something on a 20-30 mile ride without leaving me bed bound the next morning. I've already lost a few pounds and definitely feel "healthier". My goal right now is to keep riding and hopefully attempt the STP next summer!

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Keith E. Staff Member

JonAssink, I definitely agree with ya on the feeling of accomplishment with the longer distances (and appreciate not being wrecked afterward). Keep it up! Hope we'll see you at our rest stop for the STP next year!

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renovator

Back in 1972-1980 I lived in Eugene OR, flat terrain, very bike friendly, and found I could get nearly anywhere nearly as fast on a bike as a car, plus save money. Fast forward to 2001, living in Belleuve, working in Seattle. I still had the bike and finally figured out how to get across the lake. Surprise! It's nearly as fast as driving, no parking hassles, and FUN -- plus fitness. I love getting two things done at the same time, and commuting (which I HAVE to do) and riding ( which I like to do) and exercise (which I SHOULD do ) all fall into place when I bicycle commute. I started slowly, riding just one way and taking the bus home 3x a week, and gradually got to where I was riding 100% of the time. With the right clothes, you can ride in the Seattle area nearly all the time -- snow and ice are the only real exceptions. It rarely rains hard here, and a 10 mile commute is ideal.

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Keith E. Staff Member

renovator, you hit all the nails on the head. Love the way riding manages to accomplish several things at once. Plus the baby-step nature of starting slowly and working up to 100%. Nice!

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gefpix

Interesting conversation! For about three years I commuted by bike 2-3 miles from my home, then hitched a ride on the Sounder to my workplace in Kent.

The ride itself was not a big deal, and usually not done in much of a hurry. However, just that little extra bit of exercise in the morning and afternoon was enough to trim fifteen pounds off my (otherwise sagging) physique in just a few weeks, a weight loss that continued for the duration of my time bike commuting.

If I had any doubt of that direct-result, they were dispelled when, for various reasons, I eventually shed the commuter bike in lieu of a van pool. Within three months the fifteen pounds was back.

And there you have it!

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Keith E. Staff Member

Love multimodal commutes, gefpix--there are a number of people here that bike to their van pool meeting spot, dunno if that'd be a possibility for you if you were interested.

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Carlito Negro

My bike was my only means of transportation from about 1995 to a couple of years ago. However, riding has been a source of great fun and adventure for a much longer time. From the days of my youth when my friends and I pretended we were character from Chips or flying around in space in Vipers or X-Wings. In my teens, we'd use them to raise money in charity rides or get away for the weekend by riding 33 miles to the lake where my grandmother lived. Throughout most of my adult life, my bikes have got me to and from work even in the hot Arizona summers. I've probably gone through about a dozen bikes by now and I can not even imagine a life of not riding one.

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falconoclaf

I bought a bike from a garage sale when I was in high school and still waiting from my drivers license... it's been 8 years since then and I've fallen in love with bikes so much, that I'm still riding that same bike, along with a whole collection of others. And I still haven't gotten that drivers license.

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Keith E. Staff Member

HUGE thumbs up to ya, falconoclaf. Impressive and inspiring, for sure.

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Keith E. Staff Member

That's awesome, Carlito Negro... and, funnily enough, I was just telling some other people recently that, from time to time when riding through wooded areas, I'll pretend I'm riding an Endor Speeder from Return of the Jedi.

Here's to continuing to ride!

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l_flake

A little over a year ago, our family became a single car family in order to help out other family members by giving them our second car. We lived close enough to my work that I can commute by running or riding. Most of my commutes are running, but there are those days that I just need to ride. When I ride to work in the morning, I usually end up going the long way usually 5 times further than if I were to just go straight to work. The enjoyment I get makes for a great start to any workday.

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Keith E. Staff Member

Wholeheartedly understand what you mean about starting out the workday with a long ride and how enjoyable that is, l_flake. Very cool that you're so close that you can either run or bike it, even more awesome that you're able to (and choose to) extend the ride for sheer enjoyment.

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mr.ed_raleigh

When I graduated college, I had gained 65 pounds of (not muscle) and was feeling pretty terrible about myself and my situation. I bought a road bike and lost 25 of those pounds right away. I ended up loving bikes so much I have ridden them all over the country. I fix bikes now for a living and couldn't be more happy doing anything else. I ride because it's cheap, easy transportation, great excersize, and a really fun way to meet people. It's also fun to just GET OUT AND RIDE

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