As the warm weather moves in, it’s time to appreciate that fine invention that not only gets us from point A to point B, but is a great exercise tool and fun to ride. Get a helmet on, hold on to your handlebars and hit a paved path or off-road bicycle trail – National Bicycle Month is upon us!
We all remember our first bicycle. If your childhood was spent with playing cards in your spokes or tassels in your handlebars, it may seem like the bicycle has been around since the invention of the wheel, but which generation was the first to enjoy the wonder of this delightful traveling device?
The creation of early two-wheel prototypes of the bicycle dates back to as early as the 1790s. A pedal-less two-wheel model was designed in 1816 in Germany, and another version was invented in Scotland, in 1839. The modern-day bike’s closest cousin, propelled by a pedal and crank system, is credited to a French father and son duo by the family name of Michaux. The first U.S. patent for a bicycle design was filed by Pierre Lallement, an apprentice of Michaux, who also contributed to this design. By the later part of the 19th century, the original bicycle, dubbed the Boneshaker, had been improved. In 1885, a model created in Britain called the Safety Cycle, for its less bumpy and more predictable ride, helped the bicycle rise to popularity. Over the next century, the bicycle turned from wooden wheels to metal rims to the rubber tires of today, with many improvements and further adjustments made to the gear systems.
Now that you know a bit about the contraption to which we’ve dedicated the month of May, why not join in the fun? Whether you like mountain biking or joy-riding around your neighborhood, polish up your seat and hop on your bike.
Celebrate by putting training wheels on your child’s bike and teaching him or her to ride. Bicycling is a great work-out and a wonderful outdoor activity.
In observance of National Bike Month, the third Friday in May is National Bike to Work Day. If you can safely commute to work on your bike, ride in with others participating across the country. Biking to work may or may not extend your travel time a little, but think of the fresh air and exercise you don’t get during daily car rides. Not to mention the gas money you will save. If everyone joined in or traveled by bike all of the time, imagine the positive impact on the environment. Several states and organizations have rallied together in recent years in an effort to establish a National Bicycle Route System. To see if your state is involved, or to learn more about routes near you, visit the Adventure Cycling Association’s website at www.adventurecycling.org.
Another way to observe this momentous occasion is to roll out your mountain bike and take to a nearby trail or bicycle path. There are also a number of national and local bicycle leagues that you can join to get rolling on fun biking excursions. If you’re an outdoor adventure enthusiast, whether a beginner or an avid cyclist, you can find new trails to travel on via the extensive online database available at www.americantrails.org.
For more information on National Bike Month and related festivities happening in your area, visit the League of American Bicyclists’ website at