Author's note: With apologies to Rick Warren, I've adapted the title of his banal and uninteresting book. At least the title is useful.
The bicycle is a vehicle. A dictionary definition of vehicle is: "any means in or by which someone is carried or conveyed; a means of conveyance or transport." While riding a bicycle can and does provide exercise for the rider resulting in increased fitness if done properly, the bicycle is a vehicle.
Indoor cycles, especially those with only one wheel, by definition are not bicycles. They are fitness machines. I'm not against fitness machines, but indoor cycles, like treadmills, are artificial. They adapt the techniques of the real thing they resemble, but are not the real thing. Why not just go for a ride or walk outside? (Unless you live outside the "green zone" in Baghdad.)
Author's note: The nearby Gold's Gym has over 150 parking places for automobiles, and no bicycle rack. What if members rode to the gym for fitness instead of using cars to get there?
Secondly, a vehicle should take you somewhere. While a bicycle can be used to train for a future bicycling event, such as a charity ride, a brevet, or a race, the purpose for which it is best suited is transportation. There is of course the daily transportation of commuting to and from work. The bicycle is excellent for this. As long as you live within 15 miles of your workplace this would be only an hour's ride or less. It is certainly possible to commute by bicycle on a year round basis, no matter where you live. I do. I even own a trailer I can hitch to my bike when I need to purchase our family's groceries. It has a 100 pound capacity which is plenty when I spend $150.00 or so.
Finally, and for me more importantly, a bicycle will take you to towns, near and far, and onto streets you've only seen from a car. Those who know me can attest that some of my favorite things are pocket knives, flashlights, books, and maps. Especially maps. Maps are to me what the Sears Catalog was to generations past - something to look at and dream with.
I could spend hours looking at maps and making up routes to places near and far. Even when I drive my truck, I'm always on the lookout for roads that look like interesting places to ride. Yesterday, I rode my bicycle down to Dongola. I'd been dreaming about it for a little while, and finally had the opportunity. It was everything I'd hoped for and more. The trip was a little over 85 miles with over 2000 feet of climbing along the way. What's more, I saw a road I wanted to take later. Woohoo! As soon as I got home, I looked on a map to verify that Cypress road runs from Dongola all the way back to State Route 37. I can't wait to go down there again and take that road. Then maybe go farther south to route 169 over to route 45 and down to Metropolis, or maybe...there I go again! I love dreaming about traveling on my bike.
The point is this: a bicycle is a vehicle. If you are riding an indoor cycle - try the real thing. If you are riding outdoors, but you are a cul-de-sac rider, covering only the 8 or 10 miles near your home, work on your endurance and start seeing more. You'll love the results. Cycle, but cycle with purpose!