The bicycle was invented in the 1600s, originally a wood vehicle to be powered by people instead of horses. By the early 1800s, bicycles were consistently being built of metal, with two wheels, and were being driven by one person. The sport of cycling, and more recently mountain biking, has gained in popularity. Many us it as an environmentally-friendly form of transportation.
Cycling provides good exercise, fresh air, and a competitive challenge. It exercises most parts of the body including the legs, arms, hands and cardiovascular system. Cycling is also an Olympic racing sport with track and cross-country events. Mountain biking competitions continue to grow in popularity, combining speed with rugged terrain.
There are thousands of brands and types of bicycles, from touring to mountain bikes, even tandems and unicycles. Costs range in price from under $100 to thousands of dollars. It is important to maintain the bike so it is at peak running condition. Check for thinning tire treads, squeaky brakes, sticky cables or a bent frame. Before each ride, squeeze the tires to make sure there is enough air pressure (the tires shouldn't squeeze much).
Riders should also invest in a CSA-approved helmet, with costs ranging from $20 to more than $100. This means the helmet design has completed the Canadian Standards Association's durability testing. Other accessories include a quality lock & cable, a water bottle, and a tire pump. Many cyclists also want toe clips, to improve peddling efficiency. Serious cyclists also invest in cycling clothing including cycling shoes, spandex pants shorts (usually with soft chamois crotch padding) and cycling gloves.
Calgary provides ideal cycling terrain, with over 200 kilometres of bike paths. Flat routes can be found along the Bow River, with hillier routes along the elbow, around Glenmore and Nose Hill Park. The paths are shared with other exercise seekers (walkers, joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters) who have right-of-way over cyclists. Calgary cyclists must have a bell or horn with which to warn other path users of their approach. Cyclists should also use traditional hand signals when riding on the street. When crossing a road, cyclists should dismount and walk their bikes (this forces cars to treat you like pedestrians!).
There are several cycling groups in Calgary offering group cycling activities: the Calgary Sport and Social Club (284-4711), and the Elbow Valley Cycle Club (283-BIKE) famous for its Golden Triangle trip through the Rockies in the summer.