Finding and riding the bicycle built for you

Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:21am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As fuel prices soar and the weather warms, more adults are rediscovering bicycling as a way to get fit, get around, and rekindle that childhood joy of movement.

Experts say whether you're pedaling down suburban paths, mountain trails or city lanes, taking a few precautions will have you sitting sweet upon your bicycle seat.

"With the tough economy and gas prices rising, suddenly biking seems like this sensible, fun way to get fit," said Peter Flax, editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine. "It's cheaper than joining a gym. And you can drive your car less."

In 2010, there were 19.8 million bicycles sold in the United States, up 15 percent from 2009, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, a non-profit trade group.

"The biggest surprise is the growth in big and mid-size cities," said Flax. "Go to a coffee shop or a farmers' market, you'll see many people who aren't hard core, spandex-clad athletes using their bikes to get around."

The League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group, reported that bicycling increased by an average of 36 percent in the 70 largest U.S. cities from 2005 to 2010.

Consequently, Flax said, city biking is getting safer. "Infrastructure changes like bike lanes are on the rise, and people in cars are becoming more patient."

While many a workable bicycle is languishing in a garage or closet, Flax said, before pedaling off into the sunset, or the office, on one, visit the bicycle shop for a tune up and fitting.   Continued...

Women pose for a picture before a ride to celebrate International Women's Day in downtown Mexico City March 3, 2012. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo