Mountain BikingI began cycling about 5 years ago and it quickly became my main form of exercise. And while it’s hard work, it actually feels relaxing and de-stressing. 

First, it’s a quick and economical way to get out of town and out into the county. With a road bike, you can put in some miles without wearing yourself out. I’ll go for 10, 15, or 20 miles, and that’s a light day for many cyclists. A 20 mile round trip gets me from my house in the country to the nearest small town, riding along the river.

Second, it gives me time to focus on pushing myself and not thinking about work. I often start out with a few issues on my mind, intending to mentally work on them. Then exercising clears my mind and focuses me, so the problems don’t seem that daunting. Without really “working” on them, I often come back ready to tackle them, feeling like I have a plan.

Third, exercise lifts your mood. The sun, wind and gorgeous scenery, along with exercise, always make me feel like anything is possible. It honestly feels like a mini vacation in my day.

Fourth, cycling gives you energy. When I ride regularly, I feel much more energetic the rest of the time. Sometimes, when I feel a small cold coming on, I’ll go for a bike ride. It seems to rev up my system. When I feel in a slump and tired, I’ll make myself get out there and feel much better for it. Most exercise can probably give these benefits, but I love cycling because it’s outside, in the breeze, so I don’t feel hot and sweaty like I do if I go to the gym or running.

And finally, it might not be that costly to get into. You might be thinking you don’t have several grand to sink into a new road bike, but you can try it out on a used mountain bike, or find a used street bike at a local cycling shop. I got mine with my tax return, and it turns out February through April is a good time to get a great deal on last year’s models.  While you’re at the bike shop, ask about local riding groups or scheduled rides. Cycling is also a fun way to meet new people.

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