Cycling is a means of transport, a form of recreation, and a sport. The bicycle carries riders across land, through tunnels, over bridges, or to a nearby town in the provinces of the Philippines. Cycling involves the riding of bicycles, unicycles, tricycles, quadricycles and other similar human powered vehicles (HPVs).
World-wide, the vehicle most commonly used for transportation is a utility bicycle. These have frames with so-called relaxed geometry, placing the rider further behind the pedals and with a greater curve or angle in the front forks. Both these factors reduce shocks from the road surface and make the bicycle easier to steer at low speeds.
The most popular types of bicycle in the western world, where cycling for recreation is more common, are mountain bikes and road bicycles. The latter tend to have a more upright shape and a shorter wheelbase, which make the bike more mobile but harder to ride slowly. The design, when coupled with low or dropped handlebars, requires the rider to bend forward more, which reduces air resistance as speeds increase.
The price of a new bicycle in the Philippines can range from P1,350 pesos (on sale) to more than P15,000 pesos depending primarily on the quality, type and weight (the most exotic road bicycles can weigh as little as 3.55kg (7.8lb). Being measured for a bike and taking it for a test ride are recommended before buying.
The drivetrain components of the bike should also be considered. A middle grade dérailleur is most likely sufficient for a beginner, although many utility bikes come equipped with hub gears. If the rider plans a significant amount of hill climbing, a triple-crank (three chainrings) front gear system may be preferred. Otherwise, the relatively lighter and less expensive double-crank (two chainrings) system may be a better selection. Many road bikes include clipless pedals to which special shoes attach via a cleat mechanism, permitting the rider to pull on the pedals as well as pushing them. A variety of accessories may be purchased for the bicycle and the cyclist. These include locks, mudguards (UK)/fenders (US), luggage racks and pannier bags, water bottles and bottle cages. For basic maintenance and repairs, cyclists can choose to carry a pump, a spare inner tube, a CO2 cartridge, a puncture repair kit and tyre levers. Cycling can be more efficient and comfortable with special shoes, gloves, and cycling shorts or pantleg clips. Riding in wet weather can be more tolerable with waterproof clothes, such as cape, jacket, trousers and overshoes. Items legally required in some jurisdictions, or voluntarily adopted for safety reasons, include bicycle helmets, generator or battery operated bicycle lighting, and audible signaling devices such as a bell or horn. Extras include studded tires and a bicycle computer.
What to learn
Learning to ride efficiently and safely in traffic is important. Some cyclists act like pedestrians who just happen to be on wheels while some cyclists have learned to operate their pedal vehicles vehicularly (i.e., by the rules of the road for vehicles). In the United Kingdom, many primary school children are given the opportunity to take the Cycling Proficiency Test, to help them travel more safely on the road. In countries such as the Netherlands, where cycling is popular, cyclists sometimes ride in bike lanes at the side of, or frequently separate from, the main highway. Many primary schools participate in the national road test in which children individually complete a circuit on roads near the school while being observed by testers.
Types of cycling
In areas in which cycling is popular and encouraged, cycle-parking facilities using bicycle racks, lockable mini-garages, and patrolled cycle parks are used to reduce theft. Local governments also promote cycling by permitting the carriage of bicycles on public transport or by providing external attachment devices on public transport vehicles. Conversely, an absence of secure cycle-parking is a recurring complaint by cyclists from cities with low modal share of cycling.
Extensive bicycle path systems may be found in some cities. Such dedicated paths often have to be shared with in-line skaters, scooters, skateboarders, and pedestrians. Segregating bicycle and automobile traffic in cities has met with mixed success, both in terms of safety and bicycle promotion. At some point the two streams of traffic inevitably intersect, often in a haphazard and congested fashion. Studies have demonstrated that, due to the high incidence of accidents at these sites, such segregated schemes can actually increase the number of car-bike collisions.
In the Netherlands bicycle paths are widespread and are (in the cities) not allowed for scooters. Cyclists in the Netherlands are well protected as the law assumes the stronger participant (i.e. the car) guilty party in all accidents involving weaker traffic unless evidence of the opposite is provided. Furthermore, drivers know to expect bikes, which are plentiful and treat traffic rules more as guidelines. Due to these issues the number of car-bike collisions with serious consequences is not alarmingly high in the Netherlands
The postal services of many countries have long relied on bicycles. The British Royal Mail first started using bicycles in 1880; now bicycle delivery fleets include 37,000 in the UK, 25,700 in Germany, 10,500 in Hungary and 7000 in Sweden. The London Ambulance Service has recently introduced bicycling paramedics, who can often get to the scene of an incident in Central London more quickly than a motorised ambulance.
Philippine National Police (PNP) adopted the bicycle as well, initially using their own. However, they eventually became a standard issue, particularly for police in rural areas. The PNP purchased 30 police bicycles patrols operating. Some countries retained the police bicycle while others dispensed with them for a time. Bicycle patrols are now enjoying a resurgence in many cities, as the mobility of car-borne officers is becoming increasingly limited by traffic congestion and pedestrianisation. They also have the advantages that the officers are inherently more open to the public, and the transport is quieter to permit a more stealthy approach toward suspects. The pursuit of suspects can also be assisted by a bicycle.
Bicycles enjoy substantial use as general delivery vehicles in many countries. In the UK and North America, generations of teenagers have got their first jobs delivering newspapers by bicycle. London has many delivery companies that use bicycles with trailers. Most cities in the West, and many outside it, support a sizeable and visible industry of cycle couriers who deliver documents and small packages. In India, many of Mumbai's Dabbawalas use bicycles to deliver hot lunches to the city’s workers. In Bogotá, Colombia the city’s largest bakery recently replaced most of its delivery trucks with bicycles. Even the car industry uses bicycles. At the huge Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen, Germany workers use bicycles, colour-coded by department, to move around the factory.
Bicycles are used for recreation at all ages. Bicycle touring, also known as cyclotourism, involves touring and exploration or sightseeing by bicycle for leisure. A brevet or randonnée is an organized long-distance ride.
One popular Dutch pleasure is the enjoyment of relaxed cycling in the countryside of the Netherlands. The land is very flat and full of public bicycle trails where cyclists aren't bothered by cars and other traffic, which makes it ideal for cycling recreation. Many Dutch people subscribe every year to an event called fietsvierdaagse — four days of organised cycling through the local environment. Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), which began in 1891, is the oldest bicycling event still run on a regular basis on the open road, covers over 1200 km and imposes a 90-hour time limit. Similar if smaller institutions exist in many countries.
Many cycling clubs hold organized rides in which bicyclists of all levels participate. The typical organized ride starts with a large group of riders, called the mass, bunch or even peloton. This will thin out over the course of the ride. Many riders choose to ride together in groups of the same skill level to take advantage of drafting. Most organized rides, for example Cyclosportives, Challenge Rides or reliability trials, include registration requirements and will provide information either through the mail or online concerning start times and other requirements. Rides usually consist of 25, 50 and 100 mile routes, each with a certain number of rest stops that usually include refreshments, first aid and maintenance tools.
Mountain biking grew in the late 20th century, including recreation and racing.
As the bicycle evolved its various forms, different racing formats developed. Road races may involve both team and individual competition, and are contested in various ways. They range from the one-day road race, criterium, and time trial to multi-stage events like the Tour de France and its sister events which make up cycling's Grand Tours. Recumbent bicycles were banned from bike races in 1934 after Marcel Berthet set a new hour record in his Velodyne streamliner (49.992 km on 18 November 1933). Track bicycles are used for track racing in Velodromes , while cyclo-cross races are held on rugged outdoor terrain. In the past decade, mountain bike racing has also reached international popularity and is even an Olympic sport.
Professional racing organizations place limitations on the bicycles that can be used in the races that they sanction. For example, the Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body of international cycle sport (which sanctions races such as the Tour de France), decided in the late 1990s to create additional rules which prohibit racing bicycles weighing less than 6.8 kilograms (14.96 pounds). The UCI rules also effectively ban some bicycle frame innovations (such as the recumbent bicycle) by requiring a double triangle structure.
The bicycle is not suited for combat, but it has been used as a method of reconnaissance as well as transporting soldiers and supplies to combat zones. In this it has taken over many of the function of horses in warfare. Bicycles were used in the Second Boer War, where both sides used them for scouting. In World War I, France and Germany used bicycles to move troops. In its 1937 invasion of China, Japan employed some 50,000 bicycle troops, and similar forces were instrumental in Japan's march through Malaysia in World War II. Germany used bicycles again in World War II, while the British employed airborne "Cycle-commandos" with folding bikes.
In the Vietnam War, communist forces used bicycles extensively as cargo carriers along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. There are reports of mountain bicycles being used in scouting by U.S. Special Forces in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and in subsequent battles against the Taliban. British troops, designated Light Bicycle Infantry, used bicycles to patrol in Basra, Iraq in January 2005.
The last country known to maintain a regiment of bicycle troops was Switzerland, who disbanded their final unit in 2003.
Two broad themes run in bicycle activism: one more overtly political with roots in the environmental movement; the other drawing on the traditions of the established bicycle lobby. Such groups promote the bicycle as an alternative mode of transport and emphasize the potential for energy and resource conservation and health benefits gained from cycling versus automobile use. Activists in both camps also argue for improved local and inter-city rail services and other methods of mass transportation, and also for greater provision for cycle carriage on such services. Many cities also have community bicycle programs that promote cycling, especially as a means of inner-city transport.
Controversially, some bicycle activists (including some traffic management advisers) seek the construction of segregated cycle facilities for journeys of all lengths. Other activists, especially those from the more established tradition, view the safety, practicality, and intent of many segregated cycle facilities with suspicion. They favour a more holistic approach based on the 4 'E's; education (of everyone involved), encouragement (to apply the education), enforcement (to protect the rights of others), and engineering (to facilitate travel while respecting every person's equal right to do so). In some cases this opposition has a more ideological basis: some members of the Vehicular Cycling movement oppose segregated public facilities, such as on-street bike lanes, on principle. Some groups offer training courses to help cyclists integrate themselves with other traffic. This is part of the ongoing cycle path debate.
Critical Mass is a worldwide activist movement of mass bicycle protest rides. It incorporates the themes of increasing the road- and mind-share given to bicycle transport, and has drawn support from environmentally minded campaigners and other schools of political thought. According to participants in Critical Mass, "We aren't blocking traffic, we are traffic!" However, their particular forms of protest has drawn criticism from the broader streams of activism. Such activists are sometimes referred to as "bike Nazis".
Midnight Ridazz is a massive established bicycle ride in Los Angeles based on recreational activism. The ride incorporates themes and ride routes designed to maximize fun and comraderie without any overt political agenda that might fracture the group of diverse riders. The one goal of Midnight Ridazz is to have fun riding a bike and thus inspire others to ride and have fun as well.
There is a long-running cycle helmet debate among activists. The most heated controversy surrounds the topic of compulsory helmet use.
Cyclists form associations, both for specific interests (trails development, road maintenance, urban design, racing clubs, touring clubs, etc.) and for more global goals (energy conservation, pollution reduction, promotion of fitness). Some bicycle clubs and national associations became prominent advocates for improvements to roads and highways. In the United States, the League of American Wheelmen lobbied for the improvement of roads in the last part of the 19th century, founding and leading the national Good Roads Movement. Their model for political organization, as well as the paved roads for which they argued, facilitated the growth of the automobile.
Bicycles are commonly used by people seeking to improve their fitness and cardiovascular health. In this regard, bicycling is especially helpful for those with arthritis of the lower limbs and who are unable to pursue sports such as running that involve more impact to joints such as the knees. Furthermore, since cycling can be used as a form of transportation, there can be less demand for self-discipline to maintain the exercise because of the practical purpose of the activity.
Cycling while seated is a relatively non-weight bearing exercise that, like swimming, does little to promote bone density.Osteoporos Int., Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists. 2003 Aug;14(8):644-9 (PMID 12856112) Cycling up and out of the saddle, on the other hand, does a better job by transferring more of the rider's body weight to the legs. However, excessive cycling while standing can cause knee damage. It used to be thought that cycling while standing was less energy efficient, but recent research has proven this not to be true. There is no wasted energy from cycling while standing.
Cycling makes use of the largest muscles in the body (the Gluteus Maximus and Quadriceps) so it is good for people who are trying to lose body fat. Exercising at low intensity is better for people who want to lose weight as the body doesn't have the chance to burn fat at high work rates and will burn glycogen instead (although the body will replace the burnt glycogen by metabolising body fat as soon as it can - see Krebs cycle).
Endurance cycling is an aerobic exercise, Sprint Cycling is an anaerobic exercise, however both types involve both forms of exercise to some degree and can improve cardiovascular health. One measure of cardiovascular health is Vo2 max.
The physical exercise gained from cycling is generally linked with increased health and well-being. According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity is second only to tobacco smoking as a health risk in developed countries, and this is associated with many tens of billions of dollars of healthcare costs. The WHO's report suggests that increasing physical activity is a public health 'best buy', and that cycling is a 'highly suitable activity' for this purpose. The charity Sustrans reports that investment in cycling provision can give a 20:1 return from health and other benefits. It has been estimated that, on average, approximately 20 life-years are gained from the health benefits of road bicycling for every life-year lost through injury.
Cycling is not generally considered as a high-risk activity. In the UK, casualty rates per kilometer are comparable with walking, but are higher than for car occupants. Most cycle deaths result from a collision with a car or heavy goods vehicle. A Danish study in 2000 concluded that cycling to work was linked to a 40% reduction in mortality rate; this included all causes of death, including road deaths. Injuries can be divided into two types:
- Physical trauma (extrinsic)
- Overuse (intrinsic).
Acute physical trauma includes injuries to the head and extremities resulting from falls and collisions. Since a large percentage of the collisions between motor and pedal vehicles occur at night, bicycle lighting is required for safety when bicycling at night.
The most common cycling overuse injury occurs in the knees, affecting cyclists at all levels. These are caused by many factors:
- Incorrect bicycle fit or adjustment, particularly the saddle.
- Incorrect adjustment of clipless pedals.
- Too many hills, or too many miles, too early in the training season.
- Poor training preparation for long touring rides.
- Selecting too high a gear. A lower gear for uphill climb protects the knees, even though your muscles are well able to handle a higher gear.
Overuse injuries, including chronic nerve damage at weight bearing locations, can occur as a result of repeatedly riding a bicycle for extended periods of time. Damage to the ulnar nerve in the palm, carpal tunnel in the wrist, the genitourinary tract or bicycle seat neuropathy may result from overuse.
Note that overuse is a relative term, and capacity varies greatly between individuals. Someone starting out in cycling must be careful to increase length and frequency of cycling sessions slowly, starting for example at an hour or two per day, or a hundred miles or kilometers per week. Muscular pain is a normal by-product of the training process, but joint pain and numbness are early signs of overuse injury.
Cycling has been linked to sexual impotence due to pressure on the perineum from the seat, but fitting a proper sized seat prevents this effect. In extreme cases, Pudendal Nerve Entrapment can be a source of intractable perineal pain. Some cyclists with induced pudendal nerve pressure neuropathy gained relief from improvements in saddle position and riding techniques.
Riding a Recumbent bicycle or quadricycle where ergonomic principles are more closely respected will largely address these health issues, particularly those related to chronic nerve damage at weight bearing locations, simply because the body is supported in the normal sitting position.
Also your back can suffer from strain this can be induced by pushing big gears, incorrect positioning on the bike, poor core strength and a poor riding style.
Sports-related cycling and fast-paced recreation
Utility cycling and slow recreation
- Science of Cycling: Human Power Exploratorium. Retrieved March 30 2005.
- Rec.Bicycles FAQ Frequently Asked Questions (and Interesting Information)
- Ken Kifer's Bike Pages Highly regarded cycling articles by the late Ken Kifer
- 1911 Britannica Encyclopedia article about cycling
- Cycling For Fun and Fitness Additional information
- Cycling Training Tips Blog about training
- Cycling Research and Study Group - Brazil Cycling science
- Cycling Mob Cycling news and discussion portal
- Cycling links as collected and rated in Britain