Thursday, July 29, 2010

Growing through cycles

When I mentioned to my husband this morning that one of the advantages to the exercise bike versus the regular bike is that I can pedal after I've washed my hair but before I get dressed, he said then I should just give back the bike.

But why should it be all or nothing?

Since my exercise bike was still in need of repair, I headed off for a quick, mind-clearing ride. I saw a couple of kitties (first time I've seen cats in about five neighborhood rides) and was generally having a great time. But then I couldn't resist riding around the lake in our neighborhood. I've walked it many times and know that cyclists often share the concrete path. I was trying to decide whether bikes were actually allowed to be there. I decided I didn't really care, not for the first time, anyway. So, I took the little curb-cut to the path and started the route that was much more winding that it seems when walking. And then I got to one of my favorite parts, where the path winds between a house with a beautifully landscaped pool on one side and a bunch of trees and shrubs and the lakeshore close by on the other. I had some anxiety that this might be tricky for me. But I kept going. And the next thing I knew, the front tire was off the concrete, onto dirt and then grass, and I was sliding onto the concrete, scraping my knee and elbow and apparently landing harder than I realized on my hip.

What do you do when you fall off a bike? You get back on. And so I did.

I like riding the bike. I like the variety it adds to my exercise arsenal that includes the exercise bike, walking, a small amount of taking the stairs at work and some regular pacing, fidgeting and generally staying in motion at home, at work or when waiting in line.

Each activity seems to have a place. As I mentioned to Gene and others, the exercise bike is great because I can do it any time, any weather, any attire, without risk of sunburn or mosquito bites. And I can multitask -- watching TV, reading, doing arm exercises, meditating, practicing singing or, very occasionally, just pedaling. (But even then, yes, the TV is on.)

Walking actually seems like the best exercise for me. It seems the most invigorating in terms of my breathing and also the overall workout for my body. I enjoy viewing the houses and trees and landscapes and clouds and just everything in my path. I don't mind sweating in the sun. But I can't stand bug bites, and that's kept me from walking since at least June. (After reading all the warnings on bug repellents, they just don't seem worth it, and I usually end up getting bitten anyway!)

What I like about the bicycle is that it is smooth and makes its own breeze. It's a different pace. I enjoy the fresh air, and the same houses and landscapes somehow look different when passed by more quickly. And I can pray and meditate and reflect as I ride. And I really enjoyed the one day that my husband and I were up at the same time and rode together. (When he rides, he's usually back before I even get up in the morning.) But there are definite things I don't like, especially the limitations of when and where I can ride. Back when I was in college (1977-1981, Texas A&M University in College Station), the bicycle and shuttle bus were regular means of transportation for me. My sister and I traveled some of my routes by car when we were there again last fall, and those roads still seem more bicycle-friendly than anything I see around here. Here, the lanes seem narrower, and I just don't trust car traffic anymore. Because of what I know about motor traffic from my 50-plus mile round trip daily commute, I do not feel comfortable riding the bike the two miles to the mall or shopping center, much less across Interstate 35 to church. I hate that, but it's true. And if you can't tell by anything I've ever written, comfort, convenience and safety are critical for me.

So, fortunately, I don't have to choose just one way to be active. I can enjoy the exercise bike and the bicycle. And amazingly, even after taking a somewhat messy spill and being frustrated to realize I probably shouldn't ride on what look more like sidewalks than roads, I don't want to get rid of the bike. I'm grateful for the variety and hope to keep making good use of it.

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