After walking and interval walking/jogging at least three to four days a week for the last few years, I decided it was time to get a bike, try some other means of getting my daily exercise. I figured my knees and ankles would appreciate the slight bit of relief gained and I’d work other muscles that walking doesn’t. Now, I’d been contemplating a bike purchase for years and several years ago had purchased a stationary bike which subsequently saw little use and wound up being sold in a garage sale a short few years after purchase.
While the stationary was fine for the apartment, once the wife and moved into a house with a neighborhood, I couldn’t sit on an exercise machine that took me nowhere. That’s the problem I have with exercise machines. Sure, hop on a treadmill and you can walk while watching TV or working on your laptop (if you happen to have a stand for that sort of thing) or you can do much the same with an exercise bike, but that lack of forward movement just defeats the appeal of walking or biking in my eyes. I’d much rather get outside and hoof or pedal it about the neighborhood. However, not everyone lives in an area where that’s feasible, and I still hang onto my Gazelle (works similar to a treadmill/ski machine, swing your legs and arms back and forth while suspended a few inches off the floor) for winter days where it’s just too cold or frozen outside to get around.
That being said, I finally broke down and purchased a bike. My kids were excited. They could ride with me. My wife wasn’t so excited. She took one look at the mountain bike I’d purchased and shook her head.
I wound up taking the mountain bike back to the store one day after purchase.
How anyone can actually put up with the spine-shattering ride of knobby tires and the stiff-armed handling of the bars is beyond me. I rode the thing twice around the block, after the first time deciding to raise the seat and handle bars a bit (even though on a 26” tire I’m nearly standing on my toes), but the ride still felt awkward and downright backbreaking.
So I went with a Calais-styled bike which has a lower frame, lower seat, and the swoop-styled handle bars reminiscent of kids’ bikes. Much more comfortable to ride. My wife took one look and said she was probably going to steal it from me. OK, so it’s not as rugged and manly as a mountain bike, but my back sure appreciates it.
When I first got it home, I checked air pressure in the tires and took it around the block. One time as that was all the time I had before having to pick up the kids. The next day I took it out again but rain started pouring in buckets so I had to get back home. Finally, the other day, I took it out and pedaled around the neighborhood for a mere fifteen minutes and realized three things: 1) biking took more out of me in that short period of time than I do interval walking for half an hour or walking for five or six hours, 2) I think I overdid it that day because my heart rate went up and stayed up all day long*, and 3) OUCH! I have muscles there? and there? My body from the waist down was sore the remainder of the day and most of the next.
Aside from the above, I felt great afterward. So I get funny looks from passersby when they see a grown man on a bike that looks like it should belong to my children, but it is a different exercise routine, and my research into exercise has been that changing up the routine actually does more for physical health (and weight loss) than longer hours of the same-old same-old.** Walking/jogging a few days a week interspersed with biking (though only once around the block until I build stamina for longer distances) the other days should keep me fairly active.
Now my son is champing at the bit for a new bike since he’s at the point of outgrowing his. My daughter has been eyeing her brother’s bike for the last few months because she has outgrown hers. Ah, well, get new bikes for everyone and we can all ride around the neighborhood.
So if you’re driving around the south side of OKC and see a short, fat, bearded guy wobbling down the street on what appears to be an overgrown kids’ bicycle, it might be me.
Please, be kind.
Don’t run me over.***
*Enough so that my sternum and ribs were sore the next day. I’d had the same response a year or so ago when I played tennis with my son for an hour. My doctor told me I was fine but to take it easy since I’m not used to exercising that strenuously.
**I’ve lost a couple more pounds this week since biking, not much but every little bit counts as far as I’m concerned.
***The other thing I’ve noticed is none of the parks on this side of town allow bicycles. There is a marked bike “path” on major streets through town but no actual bicycle lane, so you get to share the road with 5,000 pound weapons. Granted, Oklahoma has a “share the road” law stating that motorized vehicles must give 3-feet of clearance to bicycles on the right-hand lane, but most people (unless they are cyclists themselves) I’ve noticed tend to take the attitude that the lane is theirs because they have the bigger vehicle.