Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bicycle races

Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race. - H.G. Wells

I try to ride my bike into campus at least three times a week. Campus is about 4 miles from my house and I can extend this another mile or two by riding the long way around a golf course. This gets me off the sidewalk on the busy street that leads to our house the short way around, and on to the quiet residential streets where the rich folks live (for part of the trip, at least).

I ride in the hot weather (the last few weeks have been sweltering in Madison) which is another reason to get up early.  And I ride in cold weather as long as it's above 30 degrees and the way is clear (last winter was mild and very good for riding.) I believe this keeps my body loose and my muscles tight. Not only is this good exercise but whenever I get a crick or cramp, or some other malady, it seems like a few miles on the bike puts everything back in order.

The destination of most of these rides is at the UW- Memorial Student Union.  I buy a small cup of coffee at "Peet's Coffee & Tea" and work on this blog or on my Treenut web site until the coffee runs out. By then I've either cooled off or warmed up sufficiently to climb back onto my bike for the ride home.

They say that the key to a good exercise program is to make it part of your routine. I have managed to do this mainly because I enjoy both the ride and the destination. Of course I can drink coffee and work on  my web site at home but why not do something a little different. Every ride is an adventure - some more - some less. The other day I was riding around some folks on the sidewalk. My attention must have been on these folks so I didn't see the small hole in the ground. It got me by surprise and I went down immediately. Luckily it happened so fast that I didn't have time to put out an arm to break my fall. Basically, I rode the bike into the ground. This was harder on the bike but allowed me to roll with the fall and not jam any joints or pull any muscles. Just a couple scrapes and bruises and my helmet saved my head once again.  I don't always go down so safely. Shortly after my surgery I dumped my bike while going around a corner and this time I did have time to put out my arm to break my fall. My arm, shoulder, and ribs were sore for over six months after that fall. 'Old guys' heal slowly.

This isn't the only 'adventure' that comes with riding. Other people are doing things. People working on their yards. Things are getting built, fixed, remodeled; neighborhoods are changing. Other people are going places; walking, running, riding. We exchange smiles and/or waves as we pass. It's not much but it does make you feel good. It builds your spirit. It's amazing how little it takes.

I think Madison is a relatively bike friendly city but my usual route doesn't take advantage of any of the numerous bike trails. Most of my route is on busy streets that have a bike lanes that run next to the parked cars. The rest of it is on sidewalks next to busy streets without bike lanes. Most people (drivers and pedestrians) do a good job of 'seeing' bicycles - with the campus and all the student bicycle traffic. But one quickly learns to ride defensively and to watch drivers' eyes. I haven't been hit by a car for about 20 years - knock on wood.  Riding in the city is dangerous, I guess, but I think I prefer it to riding in the country with it's miles and miles of just miles and miles. And I certainly prefer it to riding on a stationary bike in some fitness center or basement. Good god, talk about mind numbing.

For many years before I retired I rode to work every day. This is when I learned that having a destination made it easy to exercise.  I have tried nurture this idea of maintaining a destination in order to maintain this habit. And I believe that this regular exercise has been a great help to my recovery and continued good health.