The Fitness World’s Best Kept Secret

I have a new love in my life. Don’t worry, my husband knows and he is supportive. My new love is bike riding!

How did this happen? Well, in May, one of my co-workers, Sara, announced that May was Bicycling Month. She tried to encourage us all to form a team and commute to work. I thought it sounded great…only a few small obstacles: I live 20 miles from where I work, I haven’t ridden a bicycle for over 20 years, and I’m more than 20 lbs overweight…a lot more. But hey, it wouldn’t be the first time I dreamed a dream that was a little out of my reach! While I was not able to partipate in commuting to work (I’m not certain but I don’t think Sara got any takers), I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My husband and I have an “electric assist” bike that we bought for him to commute to work (7 miles). He was doing great, riding it every day, rain or shine! But then, he crashed and broke a rib! Well, we think he broke a rib, “Jonh Wayne” refused to go to the doctor. (He’s mostly recovered now!) So the bike sat there waiting. . .I could swear it was calling to me every time I walked by. How could I resist? I got on the bike one day and immediately fell in love! Selene Yeager explains so well what I feel when I am on the bike.

“The simple act of swinging your leg over a bike and pedaling away delivers nearly instant freedom. Feeling free from all the no-fun stuff of being an adult. The crushing responsibilities. The bills. The worries over the kids. The worries over aging parents. The worries over too many worries go out the window when you’re on your bike. Nothing brings back that buried youthful exuberance like riding a bike. Nothing. Ride regularly and you never have to feel like an over-burdened adult again.” Selene Yeager, Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling

Of course, I don’t ride to work, but I ride! And the most amazing thing has happened, I find myself looking for “excuses” to ride! Do I need anything at the store? Do I need to go to the post office? the library? I have discovered the perfect excuse to ride daily…it’s exercise! Wow! If you had told me a month ago that I would look for excuses to exercise simply because I love it, I would not have believed it. And yet, here I am. Another “excuse”, if I get one of my boys to go with me (which I love, but they merely tolerate) it’s bonding!

All this and there is still more: cycling is easy on the joints. I think cycling is one of the fitness world’s best kept secrets (or perhaps, like Sara, they have been trying to tell us all along, but we weren’t listening.)

Another fringe benefit of riding is stress relief. One of the main contributing factors to my being overweight is that I turn to food when I am stressed. So imagine my surprise when I was feeling stressed and annoyed the other day and the first thing that came to my mind was not chocolate, but “I need to go for a ride.” I had the strongest instinct that a good hard ride would help me release the frustration I was feeling and relax.

I know what you are thinking and yes, bike riding is not without its hazards.

“The sound of a car door opening in front of you is similar to the sound of a gun being cocked.” Amy Webster

Car doors opening, storm drains, railroad tracks are all potential hazards for cyclists, so when I can’t ride, I read books (like Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling by Selene Yeager) to help me learn some of these dangers and hopefully avoid them.

After one week and 50 miles, I have another “out-of-reach dream”. It seems a bit unrealistic right now, but I’m hoping someday it won’t be. I want to do some cross-country cycling. I have some specific goals, but I won’t elaborate on them…I have already endured my families teasing about that. Suffice it to say I have big dreams (and I don’t think that is a bad thing).

Why cross-country? Well I have always liked traveling and seeing different places. Cross-country cycling would simply combine two of my great loves. Ernest Hemingway understood this:

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” ~Ernest Hemingway

I’m almost done here, but before I end…. thanks to the Quote Garden . . .where I found all these great quotes.

For all you girly girls, check out this blog written by two girls that “ride in style”. http://letsgorideabike.wordpress.com/

Here’s a thought to ponder while you are riding your bike (or driving your car, if you must!)

Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things. ~William Golding

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One thought on “The Fitness World’s Best Kept Secret

  1. You explain the benefits of cycling so well! I love hearing stories like yours – so inspiring! Cycling is definitely great for fitness. Transportation cycling (riding to work, the bookstore, etc.) is the only exercise I do, other than a bit of yoga, and I'm healthier now than I've ever been since I was a kid.Thanks for the link 🙂

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