The social popularity of any one particular athletic activity is fleeting at best. It used to be that baseball and softball were so popular in Western New York that there weren’t enough diamonds to go around; today the number of leagues continues to decline. I remember when racquetball was greatly in vogue; today the former Waterfront Racquet and Fitness Center is a post office. Recreational soccer reached its apex about 10 years ago and its numbers are slowly declining.
In this decade bicycling has picked up considerable steam, and in particular, this year there is no end to the number of articles and blog postings giving credence to its popularity. It too will have its heyday, and then taper back down to the diehards as the next sport du jour gets press time.
I’ve been a serious cyclist for most of this decade. My desire to cycle has to do with my inability to run long distances anymore – too many knee surgeries. Cycling is therefore merely therapeutic for me, never meant to be a means to save fuel costs. In fact, I would argue that consistent cycling is more expensive in the long run because
- good bicycles, which you’ll need if you bike a lot of miles, are not cheap; and
- the extra food that you consume because of your increased metabolism will bite your pocketbook as much as a tank of gas will.
Nonetheless, we may soon be reaching a tipping point where the popularity of cycling will induce changes to transportation infrastructure that will further encourage cycling, such as biking lanes or just wider, smoother shoulders on roadways. As its popularity continues to increase I can only hope that drivers start paying a bit more attention to whom they share the road. I mentioned this before: I have no desire to become road kill, so vigilance is a very important part of my exercise.
I do not get a thrill from sucking exhaust and dodging traffic, so my trips take me into the back roads of Wales, Holland, Aurora, Colden, Cowlesville, Sheldon and other small country towns where I breathe fresh air, enjoy the scenery and take on the hill climbs. I have no desire to commute to work on bike, even less desire to ride a long, flat street from one suburb to the next.
Biking will never save me money nor help me reduce my carbon footprint. It will keep me fit, that’s all.