The inspiring story of Lance Armstrong's determined struggle against cancer and his triumphant return to professional cycling has touched hundreds of thousands of people across the world. His seven straight wins in the world's greatest cycling race, the Tour de France, has surely helped cycling's profile.
But what is it about the sport of cycling that is so attractive?
In part, the partnership of man and machine has a distinct attraction. The modern-day bicycle, with cranks and pedals, was invented in the 1860s with the first bicycle race thought to have been conducted at the Parc de Saint-Cloud in Paris in 1868.
Man's desire to cross a variety of terrain and desire to ride faster has driven the evolution of bicycles. The predecessors of the sleek, light-weight carbon bikes used in modern professional racing are steel-framed, welded and by comparison unwieldy machines.
For professional cyclists the difference between winning and losing a race may be a matter of a split second and the cutting edge technology of cycoe development demonstrates this.
Of course, not everyone who takes up cycling wants to compete at the elite level. Cycling is a sport attractive to people in of walks of life and which is certainly not confined to road racing.
Mountain bike riding is exceptionally popular, as is cyclo-cross riding. Bikes with sturdy tyres, flat handle bars and gearing appropriate to hilly terrain are used for these forms of cycling. By contrast, road cyclists use bikes with a more aggressive geometry that permit attainment of greater speed.
In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, many people choose to commute by bicycle. A hybrid bike, which marries features of a road and mountain bike, is ideal for this purpose.
Cycling is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise, meaning that you can improve your aerobic fitness and endurance by undertaking the activity. Regular cycling can also help you to lose weight. The sport of cycling is essentially non weight-bearing, meaning that your joints are spared the repetitive impact of sports such as running. If you have sustained a musculoskeletal injury cycling is an excellent way of attaining a workout without causing further damage.
Riding a bicycle does require a certain degree of balance and skill, much of which though many of us acquire as children.
Aside from the health benefits of cycling, many people find that it is a great social activity. Clubs and groups are regularly found in many areas promoting the sport for enjoyment and fitness and regularly stopping off for a coffee and chat afterwards.
So if you have a desire to be the master of your own machineand to get fit and with the aid of the increase in promotion of cycling as a great contribution to the environment, cycling could be the sport for you.
Rob is a successful International Chartered Physical Therapist. He has been a lecturer, researcher and therapist for over two decades. His rich experience of International and Premiership Football underpins his specialist knowledge of sports medicine and rehabilitation. There is a wealth of insight and experience of rehabilitation, injury and successful recovery on his website at http://www.the-rehabilitation-room.com