The Resurgence of the Bicycle

In modern times there has been a resurgence of bicycles as a mode of transportation, resulting in a savings, pocketbook and environment.

For some, it is a way to get to work. For others, it is either a pleasant afternoon outing or a needed method of exercise. And still, for some, it is a way to accomplish a fete, and/or participate in a competition.

History of the Bicycle

Bicycling has a history dating back to the early 19th century. Known as a Laufmaschine, or running machine, the first actual verified use of a bike came in 1817 and is attributed to Baron Karl von Drais in Germany. It was built of two wheels with a bar between. The rider would walk or run to gain momentum, then relax with his legs on the bar and ride until he needed to rebuild steam.

Some historians believe that a much earlier bicycle concept was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, with a sketch having been discovered among some of his manuscripts in the 1970s. Others feel it could have come from one of his students, as they did not see the hand of da Vinci to have drawn the rather poor quality sketch, or perhaps it was a copy of a lost work originated by da Vinci. And yet there is also a theory that the “sketch” was actually a doodle by a 1960s monk.

After Drais’ invention of his Laufmaschine, an evolution began from a walking machine to a riding machine with French carriage makers, Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement, attaching pedals to the front wheel, and adding a seat to the support beam. The term bicycles was first used in England in 1868 in The Daily News as a description of the French terminology of bysicles.

The Modern Bicycle

Today’s bikes have evolved tremendously into a variety of equipment for transportation, pleasure, and sport including touring and racing bikes. We have seen bicycles built for two, unicycles, tricycles for kids and older adults, stationary bikes for exercise in the home or gym, and more. Cycles are the main transportation in India and China, while Copenhagen is considered the most bike-friendly city in the world.

Cyclist competitions take place throughout the world with one of the most famous events being the Tour de France, where riders spend 21 days of cycling throughout the French countryside over a 23-day period. Cycling in the Olympics dates back to 1896. Four modern-day disciplines are planned for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo including Track, Road, BMX, and Mountain Bike.

If your bicycle is sitting in the garage gathering dust, it is time to get it out and on the road. You’ll find a renewal of a fun form of exercise while charting a path less traveled. But, a word of warning, take it slow and pace yourself. A 10-mile ride absent some shorter warm-up trips is going to inflict pain in those under-used muscles.