Many just want to ride their bicycle

How can anyone forget the lyrics, "I Want to Ride My Bicycle" from the old song "Bicycle" by Queen?

•••

Published August 3, 2007 by Appleton Post-Crescent
By Gloria West, On the Move Column

How can anyone forget the lyrics, "I Want to Ride My Bicycle" from the old song "Bicycle" by Queen?

The song may be old, as a matter of fact it came out in 1978. However, the lyrics seem to have become a subliminal message that has entertained the American mind for the last 30 years. I'm not quite suggesting Queen gets all the credit for the current biking interest.

But it's obvious there is some kind of biking revolution taking place.

No doubt the fast growing interest is due to a number of reasons, yet it is so evident from just looking at the modern appearance of a bike itself. Bike manufacturers have aggressively sharpened the look, refined bike comfort and advanced this apparatus into a technical genius gears and gadgets and "bells and whistles." From carbon fiber, to discs, to hybrids, to retro thick tires, anyone purchasing a bike will have plenty of options.

Even Corporate America is taking to the roads instead of just golf carts.

The phenomena "biking is now the new golf" is happening because of its similar characteristics.

Like golf, while on the course, a company can build teamwork and socialize with employees or get involved in sponsorship levels at local biking events. Biking helps promote healthy lifestyles for employees, something Corporate America dearly subscribes to these days. It's a creative and healthy way to bring together a business or organization and many times a morale booster as most local rides are charity related. Today a company can sponsor a bike water station as easily as sponsoring a golf hole.

Biking as a social activity has obvious benefits for our entire social strata.

When people ride bikes, they get to know their neighborhoods, creating friendlier communities. Biking has a much better chance for you to get to know the person next door other than a quick car zoom home, pop the garage door and never see me again society. It is extremely effective in building trust in our communities. Think of an enjoyable evening ride coming home that probably includes a friendly chat with neighbors you seldom have a chance to talk to.

Do you want to bike for enjoyment? Close to nature? Competition? Transportation? There are as many options as to why one bikes as there are bike designs.

The bike industry is booming. Recent figures cited in an industry trade publication show that 94.5 percent of those who ride bicycles do so for recreation or fitness, racing and transportation, a growing market that is important for the industry because it establishes cycling as a legitimate part of the nation's transportation mix. Bicycles are clearly much more than toys and their combination of utility and recreation use continues to justify support for cycling-friendly roads, trails and related facilities.

Cycling facilities construction is at an all-time high. This continues to be an important factor in the industry's growth as bicycles continue to provide Americans with a clean and healthy transportation alternative.

U.S. bicycle industry was more than a $6.7 billion industry in the last two years including the retail value of bicycles, related parts and accessories, according to research funded by the National Bicycle Dealers Association.

Where do the bike sales come from? Certainly one reason is the age demographic of cyclists has a large span. Four million Americans age 7 and older were estimated to have ridden a bicycle eight times or more in 2006, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.

Not only are bikes multiplying but so are the activities that go along with it. Numerous local fitness clubs and stores offer evening rides.

Locally, on any given summer weekend, a triathlete can venture into a competitive event, as well as the mountain biker. The bike racer can find a criterium, a short one-mile multiple looped course, or a longer distance bike race within an hour of driving distance. A recreational rider can pick out a bike tour with numerous distances, a clearly marked course, ride with others and most likely enjoy a large number of food and water stations.

So now, let's see what a local bike event menu looks like.

For the recreational cyclist, there is the Escarpment Bike Tour on Aug. 12 at Ledge View Nature Center in Chilton.

For the triathlete, we have the Oshkosh Triathlon in Winneconne on Aug. 12 or the Suburu Cup at Mt. Morris for the Off Road Bike Racer on Aug. 18.

There is another event coming up to wet the bicycle whistle.

How about a ride around Lake Winnebago for the professional cyclist as well as the recreational rider?

That is quite a big whistle, so save that ride for August 2008.

This will be a 90-mile ride with plenty of time to sing, "I Want to Ride My Bicycle."

Gloria West writes On The Move for The Post-Crescent. It is a twice a month recreational sports column including running, biking, swimming and other outdoors activities throughout the Fox Valley. If you have any comments or ideas for On The Move send them to Post-Crescent sports editor Brad Zimanek at bzimanek@postcrescent.com.