It’s not like we weren’t before – we like to take our dog for long walks, and hike and spend time outside, and don’t shy away from Moving, exactly, although as I’ve mentioned before I’ve been trying to find something that I can do as a regular form of exercise, although it’s not as easy as I might have hoped. After failed attempts at running as a fun sort of exercise and realizing that however much we might hope, we probably won’t get a Sky Surfer installed in the park down the street, we’ve been brainstorming for other ideas.
John and I have discussed this dilemma on and off for quite some time, and our needs (and solutions) have changed over the years. When we lived near Chicago, we spent a lot of time rollerblading along the lake. It was fun and beautiful, and easy on the knees, and we could do it together – we could skate at the same pace and feel pretty good about our workout.
In Texas, rollerblading was immediately eliminated as the (steeply) rolling hills and my inability to use the heel brake turned it into a life-and-limb risking sport. I went once to a mega-church’s huge (and importantly, flat) parking lot, but once you’ve spent hours skating up and down the shore of Lake Michigan, rounds in a parking lot hold little appeal.
Our final solution there was to use the nearby woods and hills to our advantage, and go (vigorously) hiking together whenever we could.
Now that we’ve moved to Oregon, our situation is a little different still from either Chicago or Austin.
1) We have a dog, and would feel bad leaving him behind for long periods of time every day;
2) we have less time, now that John has a schedule to keep with his job;
3) we have more money.
After letting all of this settle, we may have come to an appropriate solution: riding bikes! It should allow us to get more exercise faster than walking, John can tow Max to allow him to be included in the activity and – more importantly – to even out our skill and strengh levels, and we now have enough money that we are able to invest a little in a fitness activity.
Unfortunately, after making this decision, it’s been not as easy to implement as we hoped it might be. The main difficulty has been in obtaining new bikes for ourselves.
Why do we need bikes, you ask? Well – I own a wonderful bike, which I either stole from or was given by my dad, whose bike it was for the first three quarters of its life. It’s an early-’70s Schwinn Continental, yellow and wonderful.
I love it. So what’s the problem? For one thing, although I like the “geometry” of riding it, the frame is probably too big for me; more seriously though is that I was hit by a giant SUV in Texas and the poor bike has never been the same since. The right brake lever is bent so far that I can’t reach it, and the derailleurs have passed the point of being able to move the chain when I wish them to (although the bike does like to shift at random, sometimes) and the fork is slightly twisted – if I point the handlebars straight ahead, I turn right. Also, it’s quite heavy for riding up hills. We don’t have a scale, so I haven’t weighed it, but a little googling seems to indicate it might be in the 35-40 pound range.
These issues have not been significant for riding around here and there, a little at a time, but we are hoping to start a long-term serious riding plan – so a new bike it is.
(John’s in a slightly different position: his bike is also old, but in good shape, but his frame is too small and he didn’t feel as comfortable or stable as he’d like.)
Coming soon: How choosing a new bike is like choosing a spouse.
(A note about this post’s title:
I’ve been using the word “bikling” which at first came out of my mouth accidentally, but after laughing and then talking about it, John and I decided it might be the right word for what we’re doing. We’re not just riding our bikes to the grocery store or something, but certainly are not advanced enough to apply the word “cyclist” to ourselves, which implies an extensive wardrobe of spandex and a penchant for racing.
So “bikling” it is for now, at least at home.)