The Boundless Benefits of Biking

Two wheels never meant so much to so many

By P. J. Ellison

As far as physical exertion goes, cycling is to land what swimming is to water. That is, cycling offers a full-body workout. Yes, even shoulders and forearms. Indeed, once you saddle up, you're not only working several muscle groups and boosting aerobic endurance, you're taking part in something that offers more than just shapely legs.

Cycling is a mental game. A well-rounded cyclist utilizes focus, navigation, anticipation, mental toughness, and smarts regarding safety (helmet, night lights, hydration). All of that plus a chance to unplug, get out from behind a desk, and enjoy the scenery — literally.

"You don't need a convertible to enjoy freedom of the open road," says long-time cyclist Katherine Leskiewicz of Verdun. "On a bike, you get to discover new places you would never get to in a car while still feeling the thrill of speed, and the wind in your hair."

Biking also benefits the environment. You are the motor, after all. No fuel combustion means no toxic emissions. More bikes on the road means less congestion and cleaner air to breathe. Everyone wins, especially Mother Earth.

With hundreds of kilometres of interconnected bike paths, Montreal is there to explore. "I love riding through the patchwork of neighbourhoods that make up this great city," says Claire Laroche, of NDG. The mother of two and tech engineer organizes a local cycling club. "It looks like I'll be riding solo this summer, what with social distancing. But it's temporary, and it gives me a chance to test out future routes."

Claire also mentions how inexpensive cycling can be compared to other pastimes. "Sure, you can spend thousands on a high-end brand with top-of-the-line accoutrements, but I recommend starting with a solid secondhand bike that you can take for a test ride."

Bike shops abound in the city. They will get your new old bike tuned up and customize it to your body type and riding style. "With an annual tune up and regular, minor maintenance, a solid bike will last decades," says Claire. And that means decades of fun, fresh air, and a full-body workout.

Biking is...

  • Easy on the joints. This makes cycling good for anyone with mild joint pain or age-related stiffness. From the age of five to 105, cycling is for everyone.
  • A muscle builder. Pedaling incorporates the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. You’ll also give your arms and shoulders a workout the longer you ride. You’ll feel it in the abs, too, since they help you keep your balance.
  • A good way to provide resistance that helps build bone density.
  • An aerobic workout with a big boost to the heart, brain, and blood vessels.
  • Great for releasing endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. Runners claim to experience a “runner’s high” after a long run. The same goes for an intense ride with plenty of hills.

 

Summer 2020, Vol 12 N°3

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Summer 2020
Vol 12 N°3

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