Life in Balance: I want to ride my bicycle

By Chad Murphy | News Editor Published:

I love to ride my bike, but some days it is a real chore to force myself out the door.

My excuses are many and varied -- ranging from the weather to how I feel that particular morning -- but they boil down to one reason: "I don't wanna." After fighting with myself for 10 or 15 minutes, I'll finally get my gear on, haul one of my bikes from the basement and head out.

Once I'm on the road, my perspective immediately changes. That chilly breeze I felt getting my newspaper off the porch becomes an asset, keeping me cool as I spin away the miles. I start enjoying the scenery rolling past and just feel good that I'm outside and moving instead of being a lump on my sofa.

I always return home saying I had a good ride, even if conditions weren't perfect. And, I'm generally in a better frame of mind, too. I feel better after a ride, physically and mentally.

I've enjoyed cycling as a hobby off and on for years. As a kid, my parents gave me a 10-speed for Christmas one year. As a teen, cycling was my troop's thing in the Boy Scouts. Into my 20s, I got busy with college and work, and got too fat to ride or care that I wasn't.

After more than 10 years of sitting in my garage, ignored and unused, I dug out my bike last summer to see if it was salvageable. At that time, I had been steadily losing weight and wanted to kick up my activity level. I had good memories of cycling, and that bike has sentimental value. It was the first one I purchased with my own money, working odd jobs in high school in the early '90s. Fortunately, the bike shop said it could be fixed, and I was on the road two weeks later.

It was fairly easy to work cycling into my routine. I work nights at the paper, so I'm usually cycling in the late mornings, after breakfast and enough coffee to shake the cobwebs from my mind. How much time I put in will vary. If I don't feel like a long ride, I'll take an easy spin for half an hour or so. If I'm feeling good, I can be out for two hours or more.

Winter has proved a challenge to cycling, but two thing have made it tolerable. First, I purchased a cycling trainer that I ride in my basement. Second, I picked up a second bicycle and snow tires. The tires gave me better traction on hard-pack snow and the bike is bigger and better for winter riding. The trainer allowed me to ride indoors on days when I couldn't get out -- such as when fresh snow had fallen or the temperatures were in single digits. But if the roads were clear, I wanted to be out on my bike. It is just so much better.

With spring approaching, I just picked up my third bike. It's a reward for keeping up with exercise all winter. It's meant to replace my 20-year-old road bike, but I'm surprised by how well the old one has held up so I'm going to keep it around.

I'm not on my bike every day, but I find that when I am riding, my whole day is better because of it.

So, how are you keeping active and has it made a difference for you?

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