Ground Grab a Bike: 6 Reasons to Cycle Today Hold onto your handlebars—cycling is more than great exercise. Try mountain biking at Wanderlust Snowshoe or Squaw Valley, or take a bike tour in Stratton! By Maggie Peikon Photo by Chris McLennan The sun is out and nature is begging to be explored—it’s time to grab your bicycle. You already know that cycling is an excellent cardio workout that feels amazing. The key is to open your eyes to new reasons to hop on that six-speed and ride. Here are six benefits of biking to inspire you to dust off that helmet, get up, and go. 1. Time to Meditate Think about what you do when you’re on a bike. You’re pedaling, maybe you whistle a little bit, listen to some music. What are you not doing? That precious time you have to yourself on your bike is certainly not spent perusing Pinterest, exchanging Snapchats, picking a filter on Instagram, or tuning into Twitter. Cycling can be an amazing way to meditate and quiet the mind that doesn’t require sitting still. The repetitive, flowing motion of pedaling allows you to focus on your breath, your body’s connection to the bicycle, and the road ahead. Riding your bike can also elicit feelings of gratitude and mindfulness. In a post for BikeNYC Lisa Markuson writes: If you are riding a bike, every pedal is a new opportunity to be grateful for your legs, your feet, your trusty steed, the home you are leaving, the destination you are approaching, the air filling your lungs, the society that paves the roads… I think you get the idea. While the physical benefits of biking may be obvious, perhaps you didn’t realize that this practice can also have a positive effect on your mental and emotional health as well. The next time you put your feet on the pedals, pay attention to your mind, not just your body, for an enhanced practice. 2. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Aside from beating traffic by hopping on two wheels to get to work, you’re also doing your part to help the environment. Bicycles are truly the gift that keeps on giving as they’re an eco-friendly form of transportation, doing the Earth—and your body—a world of good. Just to give you an idea, Slate reported on Shreya Dave’s research on biking, stating: An ordinary sedan’s carbon footprint is more than 10 times greater than a conventional bicycle on a mile-for-mile basis, assuming each survives 15 years and you ride the bike 2,000 miles per year (or slightly under eight miles per weekday). Also, those gloriously secluded, winding paths through the woods aren’t exactly equipped for a four-wheel vehicle. Your two legs and two wheels can grant you access to some pretty spectacular places that a car just can’t take you to. 3. It’s Cost-Effective If you’re biking everywhere instead of taking a car or public transportation, your wallet is going to benefit alongside your body. Opting for two wheels over four can pack a serious punch when it comes to savings. According to Business Insider: Due to rising fuel costs and tire upkeep, the cost of owning a car increased nearly 2 percent in 2012 to $8,946, according to AAA. It costs just $308 per year to keep bikes in shape–nearly 30 times less than cars. 4. Connect With Nature There’s no greater feeling than charging—pedaling with all your might—up a hill to be greeted by the blissful glide downhill. Wind in your hair, legs flung out off the pedals, squealing the whole way down—it’s one of my favorite moments on a long bike ride. If you’re reading this, and you’re like me where you can’t help but shout “woo-hoo!” as you speed down a hill, allow me to give you a virtual high-five. The fresh air, the sound of nature, the views whizzing past… Being able to connect with the world around you, even if for only five minutes a day, is an experience we all deserve and sometimes really need. When the winter sets in we may be quick to put our bikes on the rack until the warmer seasons come back around. But look into snowbiking—it’s likely the winter sport you’ve overlooked for far too long. 5. It’s Great Exercise While it’s the most obvious benefit of biking, it still deserves a mention. An amazing cardio workout, cycling is also an exercise that’s low-impact. Easy on the joints, it’s a great way to really flex those leg muscles without pounding the pavement. According to The Huffington Post, riding a bike isn’t just about the legs, in fact cycling can offer a full-body workout: Some of the less-obvious benefits include surprising improvement in core muscle groups from balancing, which improves your posture, and upper body strength as well, giving you an all-over workout. 6. It’s Fun! (And You Can Do It With Friends) Of course, stationary bikes are great, and you’ll still have an effective workout. But nothing can quite compare to biking outdoors. The fresh air, wind on your face, and the excitement of the bumpy, uneven, weathered terrain beneath your feet… Well, wheels. I’m not sure if the same goes for everyone else, but as soon as the weather warms, a swarm of biking buddies hit the streets in my town. So, for those who like to bike with a buddy for the good company and motivation, biking at a festival or wellness retreat is totally for you. Countless invigorating activities and yoga aside, some Wanderlust Festivals (such as Snowshoe and Squaw Valley) offer attendees the chance to indulge in unbeatable biking adventures. From mountain biking terrain to paved trails, you’ll get a guided tour, riding alongside some beautiful landscapes with a group of people who love all the benefits of biking as much as you do. So go on, get out there and get in on some bicycle-infused festival fun. Are you a bicycle enthusiast? Tell us your favorite part about biking in the comments below. — Maggie Peikon is a New York native, writer, and sufferer of insatiable wanderlust. An avid endorphin seeker she has a constant need to be moving, seeking adventure in all she does. She is a lover of travel, daydreaming, fitness, thunderstorms, and her dog, Finley. Despite the fact that she has to take medication daily due to a thyroidectomy, Maggie still believes that laughter will always be the best medicine. Follow her musings on Instagram and Twitter.