By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
In recognition of May being National Bike Month, Friday will give cyclists even more reason to enjoy the activity as National Bike to Work Day.
Gary Moon, Manager of Element Sports in Winchester, said he tries to bike to work as much as possible since he lives within a reasonable distance.
"In today's economy, it makes sense. You're saving fuel, being more green and conserving energy," he said. While he enjoys biking in his free time, a ride before work can pay off in the long run, he said.
"A bike ride to work can be invigorating, and it promotes being more active the rest of the day," he said. "You tend to be more lively when you get to work."
Moon said he and a few other employees who live close enough to the shop will participate in Bike to Work Day.
While bike sales don't necessarily pick up during National Bike Month, Moon said that overall he sees people utilizing bikes more, and not just to save money on gas.
"People are recognizing the health value," he said. "Cycling is not a type of exercise that discriminates in age, size or weight. You can be 10 or 70 and still continue to grow as a rider."
Moon said he used to run competitively, but that took a toll on his body. Biking, however, is something he can continue to do.
"I'm as fast now at 52 as I was at 35 on my bike," he said. "Other activities tend to be dominated by youth and strength, but cycling is a great equalizer."
Cheryl Granger, a Loudoun County Parks and Recreation employee, lives in Front Royal, but still manages to be a "bike commuter" three days a week. She's participated in Bike to Work day since she first started her job, and has been trying since to get more people involved.
"I drive to Purcellville, park the car and ride the rest of the way in," she said. "[I] can't tell you how much my stress is reduced. On the way in I get to plan and contemplate my upcoming workday, and after work it relieves any stress I may have."
Granger added that the area's scenic value adds to her desire to bike to work.
"The wildlife in the early morning hours can be very beautiful," she said.
Mike Perry, Vice President of the Winchester Wheelman cycling group, said that safety has to be kept in mind when biking.
"You have to pick the right roads, which often offer some lovely riding," he said. "Ride smart, ride safe."
He added that biking is a better way to travel shorter distances, as the first mile driven in a car is the most energy inefficient.
Harald Huttner lives in Strasburg, but bikes to work in Maurertown as often as he can.
"I always loved cycling as a kid," he said. Huttner now bikes between 5,000 and 6,000 miles a year, mostly on his own.
"People think they can't do it, but it's a blast," he said.