I’ve been an avid bike rider off and on for many years. However, I haven’t biked in probably 10 years since moving from the east to west coast of the US and finally Canada. I enjoyed biking as a kid and would spend many happy hours riding around my neighbourhood without a care in the world. I got away from biking during my college years and the early part of my professional career. When I got into my 30s I got reintroduced by some friends and soon realized just how much I missed it. The sheer joy and simplicity of getting on the bike and riding on a nice sunny day is pure pleasure. It’s a great way to get exercise while enjoying the great outdoors. As the saying goes, you never forget how to ride a bike. Although I had not ridden one for many years, I got used to the feel of it in a very short time. Yes, I went from riding a simple single speed bike as a boy to one that had more bells and whistles, but a bike is a bike. This was long before I started my keto journey but I digress. The key here is that biking offers a kind of freedom that can’t be duplicated. Yes, it’s a way of getting from Point A to Point B, but it’s so much more than that. It goes places where motorized vehicles can’t go, which is the beauty of it. I love the fact that they run solely on human power and are environmentally friendly.
Gradually, I started riding longer distances and felt my body transforming and reshaping itself. I noticed significant muscle development, a decrease in body fat and increased energy. As I rode longer and longer distances, I realized that was better for my body and mind as compared to running which I had done before.. Although I enjoyed running, it resulted in negative physical side effects including sore knees, ankles and shin splints. The one downside to biking, especially in an urban or suburban setting is the traffic on the roads. However in many areas there are more off-road hike and bike trails which offer a safe alternative to traffic-filled roads. For many, cost is a real concern, but purchasing a new or even used bike doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. If you’re just starting out, you just need some basic tools of the trade and of course a bike that meets your needs. When looking for a bike keep in mind the kind of riding you plan on doing. Will it be on road, off road, short or long distances? Give it some thought, do your research and/or go to your local bike shops where you get help with your search for just the right ride.
In terms of health and fitness, it’s important that you stretch before riding and bring along the necessary supplies, food and drink. It’s very important to stay hydrated during the ride to avoid the loss of electrolytes which can lead to muscle cramping. Also if it’s a bright sunny day, bring along and freely apply sunscreen to your skin to avoid burning. Again you’re not climbing the alps on your bike. At least not yet. We’re just talking about a short ride around the block or your neighbourhood to get your feet wet and get used to being on the bike and how it works. At first just practice riding in an empty parking lot for example. It’s a great place to practice on a weekend morning when it’s not crowded. Another great place is a schoolyard. Get comfortable with all the controls including the breaks, gear shifters, steering etc.. and just the general feel of the bike. With time all these functions will come naturally and you won’t even think about it. You and the bike become one. Just like your car, bikes require regular maintenance to run smoothly. If you're handy with some basic tools you can do it yourself otherwise, take it to your friendly bike shop. The last thing you want is for the bike to break down during a pleasant ride. It’s really a big downer.
At first, I suggest riding with someone else just in case something goes wrong, like, for example, a flat tire. It’s much easier to repair having two sets of hands and less stressful. There’s nothing like that feeling you get after a nice ride, be it long or shot. You’re tired yet invigorated. It keeps the body fit and cleanses the mind. I’ve never come back from a ride in a bad mood, just the opposite. Bring along a snack and a drink and find some scenic spot to stop and take a break away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Have a picnic in your local park. It really doesn’t matter. There are always those who take biking too seriously or they can’t help but be competitive. I am talking about just the opposite. It’s a break from the everyday. It’s about simplicity and communing with nature. Get lost in your ride, it will do you a world of good. In a way biking is like therapy for me and many other people. It can be a solitary or group activity.. To me it’s a joyful escape from the real world to another place and time where responsibility temporarily fades and fun becomes the focus. Hey let’s go for a ride. Some of my favorite words..
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