There's something about riding a bike... it makes me feel like a kid. Carefree and speeding down the road with the wind in my face. It isn't exercise. It's FUN.
Meet my bike (sorry about the white balance issues). She's a Breezer Greenway that I picked up in the dead of winter last year for a deep discount at $400. She should last my whole life if I take care of her. I really recommend getting a quality bike. My last bike was one of those $175 numbers from target and the derailleur got bent from my wild trail rides and it was not replaceable on that cheap bike. If that happens on my Breezer, it can be corrected/replaced.
I bought my first bike as an adult in 2008 when I lived in the city of Chicago and only rode it a few times because I was always scared of getting doored. I didn't start up again until I moved to the suburbs and started running. I was bored of running 4 or 5 times a week and wanted to mix up my workouts. I drug out my old bike and started riding a bit. I realized that the Des Plaines River Trail was only 2 or 3 miles away and that I could start riding there, too. There is no way to get doored in the woods, thank god.
This past weekend, I went for my first long ride of the season, and my left hamstring is still reminding me of that. You can see in this picture how lovely the trails are. I like picking the hotter summer days for my bike workouts (instead of running) not just because of the constant rushing breeze you get, but because the river trail is nicely shaded by this forest.
If I ride in the earlier morning or towards the end of the day, I often see deer, sometimes up close. This is exciting for me because I'm from the southern California coast and our trails just have rattlesnakes.
When I go for a longer ride, I bring a hydration backpack (I found one at Costco for $20ish a couple years ago). I fill the "bladder" with ice and water to keep the water cool even if it is hot out. I also fill my water bottle and put it in my bottle holder. I bring a snack (and sometimes lunch) with me and a few essentials like ID, a credit card, a mini tire pump, patch kit, pen (?? i don't know why??), phone, and chapstick.
It is so fun to get out on the trail. There are so many other people and animals on the trail- I love seeing everyone out and enjoying Midwestern nature. The two biggest hazards are horse poop (there are even crosswalk buttons up really high for people up on horses!) and a part where I have to lift my bike over railroad tracks. The Breezer is way lighter than my old bike so this is actually pretty easy for me now.
My other favorite thing about biking in the woods is seeing all the subtle changes as the seasons progress and pass by. The first warm day, spring wildflowers, geese and their goslings (hey, girl), high river waters, the late summer dappled sunshine, the first fall leaves, the full carpet of leaves and families in sweaters, the last weekend of life...
If you don't bike now, you should be. It can be whatever you want it to be- an escape, a window to childhood, a family hobby, a healthy commute, a errand vehicle, a connection to the earth. Happy riding!
Who else is riding? Do you like the road or trails? Are you scared of being doored? WHY NOT?!