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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Science and technology have forever changed cycling

Science and technology have forever changed cycling
By:  Michael Lander


Bicycles, as we know them, have been around for over two centuries.  Thanks to science
and technology, they have, over time, seen significant changes and improvements.  Those
who ride bicycles have benefited from this, and through other science disciplines, which
have helped to make cycling what it is today.  Even though the bicycle came centuries after
the great Renaissance thinker, inventor, and artist, Leonardo da Vinci, it is an invention
that he likely would have been intrigued and fascinated with.

Cycling, on its surface, might seem deceptively simple and easy.  It is, after-all, something that even a child can do.  At its most rudimentary and fundamental level, it only requires that a person keep their balance and that they keep peddling in order to stay upright and to propel oneself forward.

There is, of course, more to cycling than just that.  Behind the facade of what seems like the mere simplicity of cycling, there is a myriad of scientific disciplines that explain every facet of cycling and what we currently know can enhance the performance and overall experience for those who ride.

Ever since the initial concept of a bicycle was first created, (consisting of two wheels and requiring the rider to balance themselves in the early 19th Century), science and technology has played a key role in the evolution of cycling, (with many improvements and refinements), that have occurred over the subsequent decades.

Many bicycles that can be found today have extremely efficient gear mechanisms, and they are often composed of extremely durable and lightweight materials.  They are also capable of reaching speeds that generations of people, before now, could have only dreamed of.

Even with all of the improvements that have been made to bicycles, they still remain one of the few devices around that are powered exclusively by a person.  They are also one of the least expensive and one of the most environmentally-friendly means of transportation that can be found and there are few devices in places around the world that can serve both a practical purpose and can simultaneously yield remarkable health benefits.

Aside from the science involved with the composition and design of bicycles that exist today, there are other sciences that focus exclusively on aerodynamics, motion, body strength and conditioning, diet and nutrition, and just on the science of cycling itself. 

As much as science can explain and improve cycling, and help with improving the performance of cyclists, in the end, it cannot make you get out and get on your bike and ride.  You must have it within you to ride even when you don't want to, when it's hot, and when you're tired and sore.  The ability to do that has to come from within you. 

The actual experience of cycling, in some ways, almost seems to transcend science and mathematics itself.  Mathematicians calculate distances through equations, astronomers measure distance in light years, but cyclists actually live and feel distances with every breath and in many of the muscles in their bodies. 

With cycling, as with so many other aspects of our modern day lives, we seldom think about how much of an impact that science and technology has had on our every day existence.  We live in a world in which science and technology has forever changed and improved our lives and even cycling will never be the same because of it. 

The saying that "time stands still for no one," is true for all of us and we should all expect new and innovative changes to bicycles, and to cycling, in the future.  To read more about what we might see, visit  journal.ie and CNN Tech.  To learn why cycle cities are our future, check out an online article in arch daily.

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