May marks the beginning of Bike Month here in Virginia. Bike Month serves as an opportunity to promote the many benefits of bicycling and to encourage individuals to give this travel mode a try as a means of transportation as well as recreation. During the month of May, RIDE Solutions is offering prize opportunities whenever a RIDE Solutions member rides one of a number of bike tour routes. Read on to learn more!
Spring, with its mild temperatures, is an ideal time for us to get out on our bikes. Our Region’s towns and cities are ideal places to bike, with numerous multi-use trails to choose from as well as networks of on-road routes, whether you are traveling to work, to visit family or friends, to go shopping, to a doctor’s appointment, or to another destination. Additionally, our region’s countryside is served by a variety of rural roads with low traffic volumes and outstanding scenery that make bicycling both very fun and practical. These roads can serve as linkages between population and activity centers, regardless of whether you plan to travel between Patrick Springs and Stuart, Rocky Mount and Waid Park, or your home in Pittsylvania County and your job in Gretna or Hurt.
In addition to serving as a fun activity, bicycling offers health benefits without the need to go to the gym. The West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan, adopted in February 2018, references a Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center article noting that bicycling, as well as other cardio exercises, results in weight loss which can reduce the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. The Cancer Center also notes that exercise, including bicycling, can serve as a great stress reliever, since exercise helps our bodies unleash serotonin and endorphins, which help us to feel better emotionally. Bicycling can also be excellent for our mental health. While it should not be considered a treatment for mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, it was noted by a Duke University study that exercise was as effective as psychotherapy and medication regarding its impact on depression. Lastly, an AARP article cited in the Plan noted that Tour de France cyclists had life spans, on average, 17 percent longer than the general public, while one’s life span could be increased by 14 months if they commuted by bicycle rather than by driving. According to the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings & Roadmaps for 2021, several health measures in the West Piedmont Planning District including poor physical and mental health days, adult obesity, and physical inactivity were all generally higher than at the state level. So, if you want to have more personal time, you can combine your workout with your commute or your other trips rather than taking extra time to go to the gym!
Over the past year, RIDE Solutions has developed a series of self-guided bike tours throughout its service area, many of which are located in Roanoke and the immediately-surrounding area. There are currently two located in the West Piedmont Planning District, in Franklin County, in particular, with more to come. These include an eight-mile route entitled “Scenic Views – Dillons Mill/Adney Gap,” as well as “Scenic Views – Wades Gap Road.” If you ride any of RIDE Solutions’ self-guided bike tour routes throughout the month of May, logging each trip into the Ride with GPS app, you will automatically be entered into a contest for the chance to win a prize! Before you ride, make sure to visit www.ridesolutions.org/bikemonth to RSVP! And to learn more about each of the self-guided bike tours, please visit https://ridesolutions.org/bicycle-tours/. For the bike tours specific to the West Piedmont Planning District, please visit https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34775545 and https://ridewithgps.com/routes/34775492. You can download the Ride with GPS app by downloading it from your device’s app store, but you can sign up directly for the app by visiting ridesolutions.org/bikemonth.
RIDE Solutions continues to add self-guided bike tour routes, and, as noted above, two will soon be added, both in Patrick County. One route will serve as a loop between Patrick Springs and the Town of Stuart, while the other will take you between Patrick Springs and Critz. Please keep an eye out for those new routes, which will be coming online soon!
Perhaps you bicycle as part of your commute, either daily or a few times a week; maybe you bike to various destinations such as shopping, dining, or entertainment. Or, maybe you are planning to try either commuting or traveling by bike to certain destinations as the spring and summer weather take hold. If you do, don’t forget to download the RIDE Solutions app for FREE, as you will earn points toward rewards each time you log a bike trip either to work or to another destination. The app can be downloaded at www.ridesolutions.org! Additionally, a great resource to help you find suitable routes to ride within the West Piedmont Region is the West Piedmont Regional Bicycle Plan, referenced above. The Plan’s interactive map, which shows clickable recommended routes, is available at https://wppdc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=abfe3df1b6ec4769aff2253d528fe2e9&extent=-80.3966,36.5503,-79.3420,37.0073.