Outdoor Advocacy

5 Things You Learn on a Bike that You Miss in a Car

Hey, Drivey Mc Driverson! Yeah, you there in your pretentious Prius hybrid, on your cellphone, talkin’ to your friend about how eco-friendly you are because you drive a green machine. Guess what? There’s an even more eco-friendly way to get around town; one that gets you in touch with your community, nature, and doesn’t make you look like a total, yuppie, granola muncher. What is this magical method of transport, you might ask? Why, biking…of course. Despite being an environmentally friendly option, biking around town for recreation, exercise, or your daily commute has other perks that you’re liable to miss from your Prius. For example:


The Lay of the Land

When you’re on two wheels you actually get to experience the lay of the land in your community: the hills, valleys, straight-aways, and open spaces. Hell, if you live in a bike-conscious community, there might even be some man-made dirt mounds for you to sail over, just for the fun of it. As you bike, you’ll start to recognize geographical anomalies, like that sweet rock bed on such-and-such a trail or the way it feels when you hit Main Street and go rip-roaring down that sweet hill. What’s more, you’ll impress your friends with your extensive knowledge of the streets, intersections, and various locations of just about everything. Who needs GPS, when you’ve got two wheels?


The Sweet Spots

Perched atop your ride, you’ll take paths and trails that run behind neighborhoods and open spaces, where you’ll discover the “sweet spots” of your community. These are the soft patches of grass tucked far from roads and parking lots that were put on this earth for picnicking, the community parks hidden deep in residential areas that can only be accessed on foot, or the ambling creeks that are perfect for wading and splashing around as you take a break from riding. It’s amazing what you’ll discover when you ditch the pavement.


The Flora and Fauna of it All

Speaking of ditching the pavement, riding connects you with the flora and fauna of your community. You’ll notice the giant Elm trees that shade you as you ride down aptly named Elm Street, bunnies and squirrels will skitter in front of you (and you won’t even have to worry about flattening them, pancake style), and you can stop to admire Mrs. Johnson’s prizewinning roses, maybe even take some time to smell ‘em.


Hidey-Ho, Neighbor!

Remember Wilson from Home Improvement? Wilson was the neighborhood sage and was always offering Tim advice for daily life or a helping hand when in need. When you’re on your bike, you can stop to actually have a conversation with the people in your community. Wave to the kids playing in the street, chat with the man who lives on the corner about his woodshop, and stop to help the woman who lives two blocks down carry in some groceries. It may sound quaint and old-school but, hey, who says there’s anything wrong with “quaint”?


Local Hole-in-the-Wall Spots

Chances are you like to drink and eat. Most (happy and alive) people do. That being said, when we spend all of our time on the driver-side, we often get in the habit of just hitting our usual spots since new, local, and off-the-beaten path spots often flash by us too quickly to notice as we speed through town. Riding a bike changes this up a bit and allows you to move more slowly through your community, ride on the sidewalks and paths that run just in front of hole-the-wall-spots, and (since you’re working up a sweat) encourages you to stop in for a pint of a bite.


On a Final Note:

A great way to get into riding regularly and exploring your community is to do it with friends. Make a pact to only bike to bars or local restaurants (this will save you from worrying too much about DUIs, though do be mindful that intoxicated biking can earn you a ticket in some counties), start a weekly bike outing with your neighbors, or commute to work with co-workers who live in your area. Take baby steps (or baby rides) and just remember that the more time you spend on two-wheels, the more connected to your community you’ll feel. Happy riding!