Bike Riding:The Realities

She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.
Susan B. Anthony – 1820-1906

When I moved to a new town in late 2008, I found the hills and valleys around town were just too steep for me to enjoy a bike ride. I road my bike on vacations, but that didn’t amount to much riding time. With thoughts of an active retirement in Tucson in my head, I drove around my small town last week and found some streets with more gentle slopes that I felt I could handle uphill and downhill on my 8-speed hybrid.

I discovered that going back to cycling after a long time away was not so easy. We’ve all heard that you never forget how to ride a bike and scientists have apparently proved this, according to this article in Medicine & Health/Neuroscience.

What people don’t forget is how to balance and pedal. You can, in fact, forget how to start and stop.

After finding my bright green T-shirt, water bottle, helmet, and iPhone (in case I got lost), I went out for my first ride in years and discovered that I couldn’t remember how to start. Did I put my foot on the top pedal and push off? Or was it the bottom pedal that I started on?

Settling on putting one foot on the bottom pedal and pushing with my other foot until I was going fast enough that I wouldn’t fall over, I was finally up and pedaling. Fifteen minutes later, I was exhausted. My legs were achy and trembling and sweat was pouring down my face. Not discouraged, I went out the next day and found it a little easier going and rode for a half hour before finally getting off the bike and pushing it off up last hill. There’s a long way to go to become the confident, strong bike rider I was as a child, if that’s even possible.

The best part of riding a bike, to me, is feeling the breeze on my skin on a hot day. It’s no wonder that a dog likes to stick his head out of a car window to feel the wind in this face!


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