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.
The National Capital Area has over 170 kilometres of recreational pathways perfect for the cyclist. On Sunday mornings from Victoria Day to Labour Day, the city's major Parkways are also car free. From 9 am to 1 pm, the Colonel By, Rockcliffe and Ottawa River Parkway (westbound lanes), and the Gatineau parkway from 6 am to noon do not allow cars. The Gatineau Parkway contains some steep sections, and families with small children may wish to drive to the portion north of Meech Lake.
The Ottawa Bike Club organizes activities for cyclists of all abilities and interests, from touring to racing to time trials. On Sundays, tours begin leaving Billings Bridge Plaza at 10 a.m. in April (9 a.m. in May) headed for such destinations as Old Chelsea and Oxford Mills Club membership is $43 a year. Non-members can take part in the Sunday tours for a small fee. There are also group rides on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings. (613 230 1064). Other cycling organizations include: Citizens for Safe Cycling (613)722-4454, Ottawa Bicycle Club Phone: (613)230-1064.