I have a few old bicycle memories, watery and incomplete. One of them comes with the scars of a painful fall.
In 1968 I came home from school one day to find a brand new CCM banana bike parked in the living room. I was giddy. It was beyond beautiful and I could see myself pedaling at full velocity, the envy of the neighbourhood. That bike, standing there so coyly, was full of the promise of adventure. It was the first new bike I could ever remember coming in to our house and I was more than a bit puffed up by the prospect. I was not the sole proprietor of the bike, sharing it with my younger brother which doubled the pleasure it brought to our family.
Sometime before 1968, I recall riding double with my best friend on a bike far bigger than the two of us put together. She was pedaling standing, and I was swinging my feet from my perch high on that saddle. We took a highspeed fall and slid along the gravel road. My short pants left one leg, knee to ankle, a mash of shredded flesh and gravel. Her short sleeves meant her elbow was thoroughly skinned. At home, I was plopped in a tub of lukewarm water and peroxide. The pain was intense. There is, to this day, gravel apparent under the skin of my left knee and ankle.
2002, the year of my first triathlon. I didn’t own a bike and rode a heavy and much-too-big-for-me recreational bike borrowed from a friend. He was very gracious in lending the bike and ensuring it was properly serviced for me. Just weeks later, a shiny red bike was parked in the living room. It is good to get a bike for your birthday…at any age.
There are so very many reasons to get on a bike. For fun, for health and fitness, for transportation, for the love of the planet. Your heart health will increase. Your carbon footprint will decrease. You will burn calories and assist with weight management, your mood will elevate, your coordination will stay sharp. You will discover or rediscover a communion with nature. You will become one with your bike.
Get On With It
What sets biking apart from most other forms of exercise is how well it fits into our busy lifes. Apart from the bicycle itself, and a helmet, no other equipment is needed. No special time needs to be scheduled, and no special clothes are needed. Instead of spending time stuck in a car or bus, you spend it on the bike, and there is no need to find extra time to exercise.
It’s as easy as riding a bike. You simply start to use a bike when you would otherwise have gone by car, bus, taxi or on foot. How much you ride depends on you, your fitness and your lifestyle. New cyclists could start off by using the bike to go a few hundred yards down the lane to fetchthe mail or to the grocery store, and gradually increase the distance they cover. In a few weeks aerobic fitness will have improved and you will be able to ride for miles without feeling anything more than a bit tired and a lot happy.
Protect Your Noggin
CSA approved helmet required. You need each and every brain cell and want to prevent brain injury in the event of a tumble.
Find Your Local Fabulous Resources
It doesn’t much matter where you find yourself on this great globe, biking opportunities are never far from hand. Provincial, municipal and city associations are common. For example, Cycling PEI provides education and leadership and organizes events, all of the two-wheeled variety. Beautiful trails abound on the island, making parts of the island highly bike friendly. And, PE offers its own down-east small-town bicycle wine tours, though the wine is never to be underestimated.
Depending on where you live, you can participate in a Bikeology Festival or a Festival For Cycling Culture. The League of American Bicyclists is a great resource for all US enthusiasts or bike-curious. Check out your town or city’s plans for celebrating bike month and have a blast!
Imagine A Community Without Cars
Vauban, Germany has done just that!
“Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden… 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here.”
You can read the whole story here. What an inspiration!
A Bike By Any Other Name
A beautiful piece of free-wheeling poetry, offered up by Zeeko Jr., 2003:
Arms, hands, bars, knees
Spinning blur, fast trees
Heart bangs, tires sing
Wind roars, gears ching
Climbing grade, sweat drips
Heavy legs, a couple sips
Breathing deeper, suck the air
Crest a hill, pedals tear
Feel no pain, feel no burn
Still time to go another turn
Mind is clear, thighs are tight
Rolling speed, wheeled flight