Photo by thomas devard from Freeimages.com

By David Drum

Bicycling is a sensual experience.

The bicycle itself is a miraculous contraption, a cross between an exercise machine and a transportation device. In addition to being great for your health and good for our environment, the bicycle is ridiculously cheap and efficient to maintain. Riding a bike not only gives one a giddy sort of freedom, it also saves more energy and generates less pollution than any electric or gasoline-powered car on the road.

Astride a bike, you can imagine yourself magically becoming a sort of bird. Your entire body glides above the ground, feet not touching the earth. Your face and frame experience the splendid rush of air. As your hands grip the handlebars, or not, your legs pump gently up and down much like the wings of birds, propelling you forward.

Wind whistles past your ears, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and legs, and truly, in a sense, you are flying. While riding my bicycle, sometimes I feel like I could power my bicycle right up into the sky.

Cycling is a sensual mode of exercise. As opposed to the bump and grind of exercise machines, or the bruising sweat-drenched body contact of many team sports, cycling involves only the human body gliding gracefully forward in space, producing a feeling known to few other forms of land-based exercise.

Astride a bicycle, one is not sealed off from the outer world as one is while passively driving or riding in an automobile. One can smell the fresh air, feel the sunlight on one’s face, and hear the noises of the street be they the beautiful sound of chirping birds and playing children, or the less beautiful sounds of honking, agitated drivers.

In some ways, riding a bike can be compared to sex. One does have one’s legs wrapped around one’s bike, with one’s most private parts in constant contact with the bicycle seat.

Pumping away, breathing rather quickly, one uses the heavy muscles in the lower part of one’s body. A pleasant driving rhythm is maintained as one’s legs and thighs pump up and down, aerobically keeping time in a manner not dissimilar to many forms of sexual intercourse.

Of possible interest are several studies which indicate that cycling can be beneficial to one’s sex life:

  • In a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 78 sedentary men whose average age was 48 were asked to participate in a moderate aerobic exercise program consisting mainly of cycling and jogging for 3–4 days a week for nine months. Participating men reported that their frequency of intercourse went up by 30 percent, and they also experienced increases in sexual arousal, activity, function, and satisfaction.
  • At the University of Texas, Austin, another study found that a vigorous exercise like cycling helped increase sexual arousal in women, both subjectively and objectively. Subjectively, the women reporting being more turned on by a sexy movie after a brief ride than without the ride. Objectively, the study measured blood blow to the female genitals after cycling, and found it significantly increased.
  • Still another study conducted in Germany showed that cycling increases the body’s production of endorphins — sending them to the same part of the brain that lights up when we fall in love.

While not exactly sensual, but definitely sexy, the World Naked Bike Ride is held ever year in more and more cities around the world. The brainchild of Canadian cyclist Conrad Schmidt has been steadily gaining in popularity since it began in 2004 and it’s a great way to show your stuff to the world, if that’s your thing.

Riding a bike is one of the world’s great sensual experiences. Not only is it sensual — you never, ever have to pay for gas.

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David Drum is a writer and cyclist who lives in Los Angeles.