Biking to Your Liking?

By Sherry Steinman

Biking always has been to my liking.  An excellent no-impact workout for the body, biking on a touring bike — not a stationary, indoor assembly — also promises untold adventure while you shape up your lower body and strengthen your cardio-vascular system.

The Basics

Your bike does not have to be fancy to do the job. Any model that is the right size for you and is in good working order will do.  A comfortable seat is a plus.  Even if you feel you have additional ‘rear padding’ of your own, think about getting a gel seat for a more comfortable ride. They’re available as wrap-overs, as well as replacement seats.

Don’t like those forward-bent racing bars? (Neither do I!) Have upright touring bars put on your bike, or adjust your current bars downward a bit.  You might feel more balanced.  And as for gears, at least a three-speed model would be nice, or a ten-speed if you’re serious.

Where to go is up to you.  In Licking County, we have wonderful bike trails which offer variety and safety.  So, if you do not live in a neighborhood that has paved roads or walks, treat yourself to a decent bike rack for your vehicle to carry your bike to the desired destination.

Warning:  I bought a cheap bike rack at first, and rode all the way to the trails with one eye glued to the rear view mirror, watching the bikes wobbling precariously.  Never wanting to do that again, I invested in a sturdy bike rack.  It was money well-spent.

Freedom

If you are like me, part of what’s great about riding a bike is the returning wonderful feeling of freedom which was yours when you rode as a youngster.  I didn’t care that I was getting exercise … an aerobic workout … or saving gas while running light errands.  No, just turning the corner past Mom and Dad’s view it was – wow! – freedom.

Out of their sight I could at least contemplate doing something a little clandestine.  Back then I occasionally hit the Dairy Queen while on my bike.  It was no secret for long, as I continued to grow larger even though, as Mom mused, “Sherry rides her bike all the time.  I don’t know why she’s not trimming down.”

Hot fudge sundaes are not known to be trimming.

But, let’s return to biking while enjoying our adult years. If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, be sure you gradually increase the length of time or number of miles you ride your bike.

After one six-mile ride a few years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m in pretty good shape.” So, the next day, my son and I hit the bike trail and decided to go all the way to Johnstown from the Newark-Cherry Valley Road start-up (14.2 miles each way).  We were absolutely dragging when we got to Johnstown and it was a long way back.  Fortunately, that trail has a slight downward slope on the return trip.

More Tips for Trips

Another thing to remember is to take a water bottle with you, and use it. Your body’s metabolism is designed to work in a water-based environment, not a dry one. Similarly, take along a light, nutritious snack.  A small zip-lock bag filled with dried fruit and some nuts will do.  Aptly named, ‘trail mix’, it’s a good bet.

In any event, do not stop at the Dairy Queen!

Do wear a helmet, because your no-impact bike ride could easily become impact-interrupted.  Case in point: In the 1960’s, when we didn’t wear any protective gear to go biking, I returned one day from a fine ‘freedom’ ride through my neighborhood — the highlight of which was passing by the home of a boy I was interested in at the time.  As I returned home, walking my bike into our driveway, I announced to my Mom that I had broken something.  My forearm looked like a bridge.

Heading to the hospital in our old Buick Riviera, with a Life Magazine wrapped around my broken arm for support, I told my Mom that the last thing I remembered was that I waved to Dave and then fell. (Dave laughed and went into the house).

Protective gear followed some time after that … probably developed by another concerned parent.  So, if you plan on doing a lot of waving on your bike rides, better strap on a few pads! The main thing is to get out there – and enjoy a little adventure of your own along the way.

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