Cycling…for the rest of us

Live free, pedal hard, and feel the wind in your beardWhen I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

Eco-Snobbery Sucks founder and editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Davis, is an avid biking fan. He covers some hot topics, like Cyclocross bikes, wheel-mounted LED lights and shifting gears with your mind (Whoa!).

So when last month’s themes were cycling or back-to-school, I assumed the latter, and never considered participating in the cycling conversation. This summer, however, we upgraded my son to a Trek he can grow into. I found myself exploring more roads beyond the town park with him. Now I venture out solo when he’s in school.

The gears turn inside my head. It dawns on me…Hey! I have something to say about cycling.

What is a cyclist?

Of course, when I think “cyclist”, I think Lance Armstrong. My sister calls them NASCAR bikers. Bright, blurred flashes of color that whiz by, making me feel like Pee Wee Herman. That’s not me. My son has a better ride than me. I sport a second-hand Specialized mountain bike bought from my 18 yr. old nephew for $75. Considering he is now over 6’ tall, I surmise he rode this bike when he was 10. My attire consists of bargain spandex purchased by my mother with her retiree discount, a canary yellow Piggly Wiggly t-shirt and my Bell helmet. I stick my cell phone in my sports bra, fill my recycled plastic water bottle. Off I go.

By my terms, I am a cyclist.

Biking for mental strength

Biking is less painful than running and more exciting than walking. It offers scenery changes along the route and through the seasons. I watch the subtle shift to autumn, the stages of farming and bird migration. Diane Ackerman captures it perfectly:

When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day’s sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay’s call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature… I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else’s heart.

Biking provides me with more mental therapy than physical conditioning. But those hills sure get the heart pumping. Wind and weather provide unpredictable challenges. The workout never bores me. Slowly but surely I get stronger attacking that beastly hill on County J. I return red-faced, ready to stretch out tight muscles. The frosty mornings might slow me down without proper winter gear, but I’m sure Mom will find something functional at Kohl’s.

Don’t let flashy attire and gadgets intimidate you

Start somewhere. Start with your Huffys and your Schwins. Hills are achievements, not bullies. Walking your bike up is not a defeat, it’s still a damn good workout. Then hop on, coast down and channel your inner Lance.

Every pedal counts.

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About Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson is a freelance writer with nearly 20 years of experience in community health education, non-profit program management and mental health counseling. Amy works on projects that promote greener, healthier living through pragmatic approaches. She is an avid fan of reality therapy, small town farmers markets and dishing out home cooking with unsolicited advice. You can also follow Amy’s adventures in realistic wellness.

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  • Jubes10

    I can’t wait to channel my inner Lance on Friday afternoon…

    • Realitywellness

      I’ll be the Pee Wee you pass on the hills.