by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
If getting fit and staying healthy is on your list of priorities, and it certainly should be, then it is well worth thinking about getting on your bike.
Unlike some forms of exercise which can seem like a hard slog, cycling is easy and fun. It is suitable for everyone, whatever age, size, or level of fitness. It won’t cost you a monthly fee, it’s easy to make it a part of your weekly routine, and all you need to get started is a bike, and it does not even have to be a new bike. In addition to this you can actually use a bicycle no just for exercise but for getting from A to B and back to A.
Regular cycling will help your aerobic fitness, stamina, strength, and muscle function, as well as reducing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. It is low impact so won’t put a strain on your joints, and it’s also great for combating feelings of stress and depression.
In addition to that, according to several natural health practicioners in the USA and my own experience, gently using a bicycle also can alleviate (I said alleviate and not cure) lower back pain and sciatica. This will save you lots of money on chiropractors and such like.
In fact, such are the health benefits that experts have worked out that cyclists are likely to live two years longer than non-cyclists!
And, the good news is that you don’t have to kit yourself out in head-to-toe Lycra and start tackling fifty mile rides. Gentle 10-15 minute rides to work or to the shops are just as good for your health.
Also, as I have indicated already, there is no need to go and spend hundreds on a new bike. A secondhand one will do as well and will come a lot cheaper.
Do learn a few tricks of the trade though such as how to fix a puncture, etc., up to how to replace chains, and much more. Unlike a car most things to do with a bicycle can be easily learned and done.
Personally, and I am no bike mechanic though do want to learn a lot more about it still, I rebuild bicycled from those found abandoned and otherwise thrown away into the countryside and I have built a couple of very useful ones that way.
Finally a little suggestion: Get yourself a single-speed bicycle or one with three to five hub gears. The Shimano-style dérailleur gear shifts are a pain in the backside to repair and adjust. A single-speed bike does not need to be expensive either. Again a secondhand one can more than likely be found for little money, as they tend to be the older kind of bikes.
Having said that, however, new single-speed bikes are rather expensive as they have also become very popular indeed. However, with a little skill and knowledge you can convert almost any dérailleur gear shift bike into a single-speed one without much ado. Only requirement is, aside from tools, that the frame does not have a vertical dropout at the back.
All my conversions are achieved like that and they work better than they did originally and no need to take care of the dérailleurs and such. Dérailleurs are very sensitive to being knocked – it throws them out of alignment – and also to dirt and muck. Single speed ones do not have that problem.