Yet another reason to ride — May is Bike Month

As a kid, I loved to ride my bike. It was my primary form of transportation to get around my neighborhood, and it was freedom. I had a bright yellow Schwinn Fair Lady with a banana seat and monkey handlebars. It was so cool.

During the summer, I would take off in the morning and return only as the dinner hour approached. Sometimes, this involved my mom standing at the front door hollering “dinner time.” This scenario was typical in the 1970s. Kids ran in packs and were only partially tamed. And we had yet to learn about the importance of helmets.

Today, I ride a bike for the same reasons, plus one more I did not have to worry about as a kid. My bike gets me where I need to go, and I still love the feeling of freedom and the wind on my face. But nowadays, taking the bike for a spin is also a way to burn some calories and slow the middle-aged spread.

Most of my time on a bike is for fun and exercise. Nothing is better than a weekend trip into downtown Madison from Sun Prairie and a loop around Lake Monona. However, I am trying to swap out car trips with bike rides when I can. If the weather is nice and my calendar permits, I try to cycle into the office at least once a week. I have also found that for shopping trips close to home with only a few items, a short bike ride is often faster than taking my car. While you must fight for a parking spot at the Target on Saturday afternoon, the bike rack is usually a quick in and out.

I wish I were one of those winter warriors who can bike through the coldest days of January, yet this Arizona native cannot do it.

But it is May and Bike Month, so there is no excuse.

The pandemic walloped the Wisconsin tourism industry. Still, the pursuit of outdoor activities — camping, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and more — skyrocketed. These activities became our mini getaways.

The bike boom that began with the pandemic’s arrival, when the kids’ sports practices were canceled and gyms were closed, continues. People are still looking for things to do outside where they can socially distance, get some exercise, and have fun. For the second year running, the supply of new and used bikes is tight.

If you have a bike, get out there. Madison and surrounding communities have a great network of bike paths and excellent scenery and destinations, and along the way you can support our local businesses.

To kick off Bike Month, TDA staff rented e-bikes downtown from Madison BCycle and took a 30-minute ride — a work field trip. The app was easy, the check out and return of the bikes was a snap, and the day was beautiful. What a great way to clear my head and come back to my desk refreshed. So, even if you do not own a bike, you can join in on the fun this May.

Celebrate Bike Month by sharing how you #bikethere and consider ditching the car — if you are back in the office — at least once for Bike to Work Week, May 17–23, or Bike to Work Day on May 21. Maybe go one step further and sign up for the National Bike Challenge.

Let’s ride, Wisconsin!

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