The author and his wife take a break during the Superior Vistas Bike Tour in '17. Riding comes with benefits that far outweigh the costs.

Let’s face it: there’s nothing practical about racing a bike. You’re not producing anything you can eat or sell.  A case could even be made that riding as much as you need to in order to be competitive in a race, makes you hungry and poor (bikes and bike parts — especially the light ones racers often demand — aren’t free.)  

But for many a rider, knowing we have a big race coming up motivates us to get out the door and in the saddle. Using the examples above: eat and sell, let’s talk about the practical benefits of racing (and riding in general.)

Eat: It’s a well-known fact that being active is good for your cardio system. Can’t resist the fried cheese curds? Neither can I. Go ahead and eat some and don’t feel guilty; go for a bike ride later. Got some extra flesh you’d rather not have? Depending on your body type, if you cycle enough you might just lose some, but there’s no question you’ll get a healthier cardio system even if your weight doesn’t budge (although chances are it will.) Also another thing to realize if weight-loss is the goal: you’re building muscle — so even if your weight is stubborn, it doesn’t mean that you’re not losing some fat.  As we age, cardio health becomes more and more critical: do we really want to spend our golden years getting winded walking up a flight of stairs? And while we’re on the subject of health, the mental health benefits of cycling (or most any outdoor, aerobic exercise) are legion, even if less well-known. Ever hear of a runner’s high? Yeah, that’s not just for runners.    

Sell: it’s true that, except in rare circumstances, riding a bike doesn’t produce anything you can sell. But “can I sell it?” is the wrong question. The question should be, “does it produce value?” Consider an example: riding an ATV (or car or motorcycle, etc.) vs. riding a bike. First of all — as long as we’re on the subject of money — you have to buy the ATV, and compared to even a relatively fancy bike they can be pricey. On an ATV, for the most part, you’re passively riding along — contrast this with a bike where any forward movement is powered by you. On an ATV your body is depreciating, on a bike it’s appreciating (I’m probably not using that word correctly but you get the idea.)  So does riding a bike produce anything you can sell? Not really. Does it produce anything of value? Yes, a healthier, happier you.      

Until next time, keep the rubber side down.

Joel Austin lives in Moquah with his wife and son, is a member of the North Coast Cycling Association and has been biking for more than 20 years. He keeps a blog at

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