Carl Deeley of the DiscoverNEPA Cycling Team shares how to rediscover the joy of cycling.
Living a balanced life can seem like a world away when you’re juggling priorities like work, family and other commitments. We all understand the benefits of exercise and “me time,” but most of us don’t find the path to making them part of our lifestyle.
The good news is that you can bring healthy choices into your routine at any time. There are local and national resources available to get your body moving. You just need the motivation. If you’re busy and like to multitask, there are few things more accessible than a bicycle that are fun and have a positive impact on the body and state of mind.
In my case, I rediscovered the bicycle after a 20-year break. It was the usual reasons: a busy schedule, the discovery of the combustion engine, the inconvenience of weather and adulthood in general.
I was lucky. My wife and kids saw that I needed a distraction from being a grown-up and bought me a bike for my 40th birthday. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or how many deadlines you have to meet—you can’t look at your kids and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” So I slung my leg over the bar and started pedaling. And it’s true: you don’t forget how to ride a bike.
Fifteen miles per hour suddenly felt really fast. After the first hundred feet, I was puffing and panting. Then I started up a hill (in reality, it was a slight incline), and fifteen miles per hour quickly became five miles per hour. I was sure people were looking at me and laughing, but I told myself, Got to keep going. Look like you’re enjoying it. Smile.
Two minutes later, I stopped at the top of my mental mountain ready to turn and head back home. A small group of people on bikes pulled up next to me. I later found out it was a local shop ride.
“How you doin’? Great day for ride, yeah?” they asked. I could have said so many things that flew through my head in that split second. But what came out was, “Yeah, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
I turned right, coasted down the incline, headed home and rolled into the driveway where my kids were waiting. Their jumps for joy and genuine smiles woke up the kid inside me. He was always there, but had been buried under layer after layer of grown-up responsibilities.
You have to restart somewhere, and in my case, I needed someone else to get me out of my own way. I haven’t stopped riding since that day, whether it’s a short pedal around the neighborhood, a group ride with the local bike shop or a multi-day tour.
Find Your Local Cycling Resources
So where do you start? The easiest option is to talk to your local bike shop. These folks are connected to everything related to cycling, including local bike share programs. And advice costs you nothing. Ask your family, friends and work colleagues. People who ride bikes are always happy to share information and experiences. Join a group or search online. There are many cycling groups all eager to share the fun.
If you’re worried about riding with traffic, NEPA has an amazing and expanding network of off-road trails. You can find trail maps online, or you can join your local bike shop on an organized ride. You’ll be amazed where a local who’s cycled the backroads and hidden trails can take you!
We all know that connecting with the outdoors helps us stay healthy and connects us to our community. Making time for a bike ride has made a huge difference in the quality of these, and many more aspects, of my life. Being out and about on a bicycle has the canny ability of making your perceived problems look small, bringing perspective to the definition of a good day. After all, everyone smiles when riding a bike.