I have ridden bicycles since I was in the second grade. I am now seventy-one and am still reaping bicycling exercise benefits. And even today it is still fun.
In my youth
I learned to ride my 22 inch bicycle in the second grade. It was great. I got my bicycle for Christmas and the only time I was off it was when I fell or when I had to go to bed or school. That is a little of an exaggeration. But my bicycle gave me such freedom as I had never known. I had access to my friends up to two blocks away. It was just a minute or two away from even my farthest friends. Of course, I always had to get permission from my parents. If I did not, I got in trouble. It goes without saying that we were in great shape. We never had any extra body weight to spare. We never had any leftovers either.
For the first seven years of my life my bicycle riding was just for fun. When I was in the ninth grade I had to attend a school that was about seven miles from my house. I did not want to ride the bus because that meant I would not arrive at the school campus in time to play football or basketball or baseball in the morning. So, I rode my bike seven miles to school every morning and seven miles home every afternoon. I managed to get to school thirty minutes earlier than the bus every morning whether it rained or shined. Boy, was I in good shape. After that year the bike was just for pleasure and was rarely used because I got my driver’s license after that year.
I started high school in the tenth grade and lived within a fifteen-minute walk of the high school. So I walked and the bicycle got laid aside. I mainly used my bicycle to take excursions to the countryside around our town. Once a month or so, one of my friends and I would head out and ride for miles and miles. Sometimes we rode for fifty or sixty miles. Doing that just once or twice a month kept us in great shape.
During my college years I hardly touched a bicycle. In fact I did not have a bicycle of my own. Any riding I did, what little I did, was done on someone else’s bicycle. But I still enjoyed the ride.
After college I went into the army for three years. We were fortunate enough to live in a homey little town where the streets were quiet and safe. To give my wife something to do rather than sit around the house taking care of our baby boy, I bought her a bicycle, which she wanted, and put a carrier on the back of it so she could carry our son around with her. It was a grand experience for her and gave her opportunity to help get back in shape after the birth of our son. But, I did not have a bike at that time.
When I got out of the army I went to graduate school. The school was a large university in a relatively large city. We were fortunate in that we lived in an area near the edge of the city proper. We were only about a five-minute bicycle ride from some beautiful countryside roads. So, as soon as I could afford it we bought me a bicycle to go along with my wife’s and we began doing bicycle trekking almost every weekend, weather permitting. We were able to do this for the three plus years we were in graduate school.
After graduate school I took a job for a year which was totally unrelated to my schooling, but it paid the bills. Then I learned a trade out of necessity and learned it well enough that within a couple of years I started my own building business. Though not a big building business it did pay the bills. As the family grew we kept riding the bicycles. They provided a great opportunity for the family to do an activity together. We continued to do this through the growing years of our two sons. As they got into high school and college years the bicycling waned. In fact it became nonexistent for many years.
After thirty-five years of marriage my first wife passed away. I was very blessed in that within a couple of years the Lord brought a wonderful Puerto Rican woman into my life and we got married. One of the things she had liked to do when she was young was ride a bicycle. So as soon as we were able we bought each of us a bicycle. After about fifteen years of no bicycle riding I was on a bicycle again. It was like I had never missed a step. My wife does not get to ride very much because she is still working and usually has no time to ride. However, I ride my bike every day. Not for long distances, but regularly. It is not so much to get in shape or stay in shape as it is just for the enjoyment of it.
Though I have never ridden the bicycle as an exercise it has proved to be an exercise which has benefited me greatly. In addition to the physical well-being that it promotes it opens up avenues of mental, emotional and spiritual exercises. One can not ride on a bicycle without the wonder of being able to balance and maintain equilibrium while moving so fast. The sheer joy of the wind blowing in your face is exillerating. The vistas that are opened up to your eyes as you forge ahead. Driving a car has never come close to rivaling riding a bicycle and it never will. Just know this, that bicycling exercise benefits are far more than you can ever measure in physical things alone.
Oh, what fun it is!
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