The bicycle is a simple solution to some of the world’s most complicated problems.
–message on a friend’s door mat
I’m always reading self-help books. Consequently, I’ve often come across this notion of thinking back to a strong memory of childhood, to a moment you felt particularly happy and free. The experts say this might guide one to a career path. Now, I don’t happen to be a qualifier for the Tour de France, so how can I get my memories of bike riding that, over the years have evolved into a love affair, to pay the bills? That’s what I want to know.
And when it comes to memories, ever wonder why our brains are like Swiss cheese? For me, why does a strong memory of a windy day spent bike-riding with a friend frolic in the cheesy parts of my brain while all of that history I was learning at school around the same time – heaps of details about explorers with names like Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain – is forever abandoned in the holes? (Thank goodness for Wikipedia, right?)
Well, according to www.2knowmyself.com, “Your beliefs strongly affect your memory.” Also: “Subconscious mind and forgetting: One theory states that the subconscious mind sometimes omits certain things from your memory if it doesn’t believe that they are important.”
I guess as a kid I believed bike-riding was important and my subconscious mind couldn’t give a crap about old explorers.
The actual bike-riding day I recall from childhood could have gone much differently, but this is what remains in my cheesy brain:
*the wondrous feeling of not having to be anywhere at any particular time
*pedaling hard through our subdivision to a distant field
*sitting in the long grass under a tree, pulling out squashed pb & j sandwiches
*watching clouds scuttle fast across the blue sky, the smell of carrot weed – or Queen Anne’s lace if you prefer – strong in our nostrils
*riding, riding, riding – both with the strong wind and against it
*getting home late afternoon exhausted, the glorious after-effects of the great outdoors clinging to me – tangled hair, dirt-caked hands, wind- and sun-kissed face
Come to think of it, I usually feel this same way when I come inside after a few hours of yard work. But there is something to be said, isn’t there? For the free – and empowering – feeling of getting from Point A to Point B on two wheels under your own strength. It used to be accompanied by the feel of wind through one’s hair, but safety first, right? I’ve had a few friends injured on their bikes this year, so be careful out there! And wear a helmet!
As I mentioned in my last blog The Renovation Blues, my husband B and I have been donning helmets early morning and riding, riding, riding. Being a country girl, far from bike trails, I had no idea these secret two-lane freeways along the river existed in my city. Hence, a whole new world has opened up to me. Aside from an early morning workout among birds, bunnies and the odd deer, I can use my bike for transportation: to my pharmacist, my dentist, my eye doctor. The local pub!
Bicycling may not pay my bills – or yours – but according to www.bicycling.com here are eight ways it will make us healthier:
- Get Smarter – According to a 2007 study by Charles Hillman, exercise boosts brain power and helps stave off Alzheimer’s.
- Recover From Injury – A recent study showed that knee pain and osteoarthritis improved in elderly patients when cycling was added to their workout.
- Improve Your Heart – In a five-year study of 1,500 participants by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, those active daily were 31% less likely to develop high blood pressure.
- Feel Sexier – A survey by The British Heart Foundation of 600 men and women found that cyclists were perceived as 13% smarter and cooler than others. Hmm. Who doesn’t want to be perceived as smart and cool? Also, 23% said a cyclist would be their preferred blind-date athlete.
- Lose Fat – It’s been proven time and again, a proper diet is important, but adding exercise is what helps you build muscle, lose weight.
- Help Prevent Cancer – A study of 14,000 men in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those with a higher fitness level approaching middle age had a lower risk for lung and colorectal cancer.
- Feel Better About Yourself – The release of endorphins from exercising is a great way to boost self-esteem.
- Live Longer – Oh, a study of Tour de France riders concluded that cycling increased their longevity. For those of us not on the Tour? Another study estimated that for those switching from car to bike, there’s a life expectancy gain of three to 14 months despite the potential downsides of bike commuting.
Strap on that helmet, hoist a leg over and discover a simple solution to many of your current problems.