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Say hello to your trusty bike

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Vic Freeman doesn’t need to be told that May is National Bike Month to jump on his 18-year-old bike.

The Lincoln resident, now 84, has been riding his preferred transportation mode since 1999 throughout Placer and Sacramento counties.

A few years ago, Freeman shared his favorite bike routes between Lincoln, Loomis, Rocklin, Roseville and Folsom in Gold Country Media newspapers to encourage others to travel between cities via this less-popular form of travel.

“You get to connect with your neighborhood that you don’t see from a car,” Freeman said.

Freeman, a veteran bike rider, can easily average 10 miles on a bike. He rarely drives a car. The bike advocate would rather take his almost two-decades-old bike on errands, to Rotary meetings and to Safeway, according to his wife, Mary Lou.

And anyone, at any age, can ride a bike, Freeman said.

It’s never too late to learn and it’s never too late to get reacquainted with riding a bike. Bike-riding benefits are great.

“It’s good exercise. It gets your breathing in. It gets you out in the fresh air,” Freeman said. “Get out and enjoy yourself on the bike.”

The League of American Bicyclists started May is National Bike Month 62 years ago to showcase the many bicycling benefits and encourage non-bikers to try biking.

Health, fun and saving money are just some of those benefits derived from cycling.

“Health experts estimate that just 30 minutes a day of exercise is enough to make a huge difference: an extra two years of life and fewer trips to the hospital,” said California Bicycle Coalition executive director Dave Snyder. “And it’s easy to get those 30 minutes by incorporating bicycling into your life. But the main reason to ride a bike is because it’s fun.”

Snyder shared some convincing statistics on why we all should bike, including those who bike just 30 minutes daily are as fit as individuals 10 years younger.

Other benefits, according to the nonprofit California Bicycle Coalition, are bikers have better mental health and more self-esteem, are less likely to get heart disease and breast cancer, suffer less pollution effects than those riding in cars and buses, and on average, burn 270 more calories.

Besides those benefits, there are financial benefits to biking.

Bicycle-operating costs are 4 percent of car-operating costs, according to Snyder.

Every tax dollar the government spends on bike facilities saves communities $2.80 in health-care costs and up to $7 in other related costs, according to the California Bicycle Coalition.

And the safety facts are reassuring.

In the last 18 years, according to California Highway Patrol statistics, the risk of getting injured while biking has dropped 42 percent in this state.

The nonprofit bicycle coalition points out that the risk of getting killed while cycling is just once every 20 million miles (5,500 years of daily commuting).

Just always wear a helmet for safety, bike advocate Freeman advised.

You don’t have to an Amgen Tour of California fan (participants pass through Folsom to Sheridan on Friday) to appreciate biking. This month encourages everyone of all levels and ages to bike.

Most parents can recall the joy on their children’s faces when they pedaled for the first time without anyone holding onto the bike.

Adults and teens who haven’t been on a bike for years can recreate that same joy by taking a ride around the block. Then take a ride to a neighborhood park. It might become one of your favorite parts of the day.