Early summer temperatures and longer days mean more cyclists on the roads and trails throughout the Portland metro area. Whether for recreation, fitness or commuting to work or school, this is the time of year when many of us choose to leave our cars in the garage and opt instead for a two-wheeled, human-powered mode of transportation.

After a long winter’s hibernation, consider taking your bike to a local shop for a thorough cleaning, inspection and tune-up, which will ensure your ride is both safe and efficient for the road or trail ahead. Pay particular attention that the brakes and tires are in good working condition, and replace them if they show signs of wear.

Safety and awareness of your surroundings should be primary concerns for all road users — cyclists and motorists included.

As a cyclist, protect yourself by wearing highly visible, brightly colored protective gear and clothing. Helmets are life-saving devices for riders and greatly reduce the chance of brain and head injury in the event of a crash.

Whether you’re a motorist or on a bike, use extra caution as more riders of every age are on the road this time of year.

Beyond the environmental benefits — the Federal Highway Administration says that regularly choosing a bike over a car can greatly reduce carbon emissions, fuel consumption and road congestion — cycling offers a multitude of health benefits. Regular riding can contribute to enhanced cardiovascular function, leg strength, balance, effective weight management and improvements in mental well-being.

If you’re thinking about taking up cycling for the first time or returning to the sport after a long absence, talk to your local bike shop about how to get started.

Many area shops offer free bike fitting services and flat-tire repair clinics and can provide helpful information on local group road and mountain bike rides. Joining a local club, such as the Portland Wheelman Touring Club, is another great way to connect with area cyclists and learn about local riding opportunities.

Our community hosts numerous cycling events throughout the year, including the Portland Century on Aug. 16 and the Harvest Century on Sept. 28. Despite their names, both events offer shorter ride distances, including the Harvest Century’s 3-mile Family Ride. The Portland Century, which begins and ends at the University of Portland, is a fundraiser for the Jackson Hill Foundation, while the Harvest Century in Hillsboro benefits Community Vision, which provides support for adults with developmental disabilities.

Whether you are a beginner, an avid cyclist, a commuter or an explorer, we urge you to get on your bike and experience the fantastic view from the saddle.

Mikael Stadden, of Northeast Portland, frequently commutes by bike

14 miles each way to his job as a software developer at PacificSource Health Plans’ Tigard office. Bill Larson is the owner of Cyclepath bike shop in Portland.

Contract Publishing

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