Riding A Bike Helps Everything
At age six, an enormous box was under the Christmas tree. When I tore off the wrapping, I saw the picture of a Toys Are Us Geoffrey Giraffe bicycle. Unfortunately, it was not all good news because several parts broke when my father and I assembled the bike. Yes, my bike was junk, but I loved the freedom, adventure, and adulthood that bike riding represented.
My bike was orange, with a striped banana seat and a flag. Of course, I needed training wheels and had difficulty mastering balance. During those early years, I had several accidents and have two visible scars from crashing. Bike helmets were not standard gear then, and I was lucky I did not crack my head open.
That bike quickly fell apart, and my mother bought me a black Schwinn from a church friend. What a machine! It got stolen a year later, and my mother purchased a red Schwinn from the classified ads. Not a great bike, but I rode it everywhere, including school. However, there were limitations, specifically the hills around our neighborhood.
What I needed was a bike with gears. Five years later, my father gave me his ten-speed. It required brakes, shifters, and seat repairs, but I quickly fell in love with this new capability. My favorite activity was exploring the canyon behind our house. I took a weekly four-hour ride from 1985 to 1988.
That bike broke when I tried to jump a curb, and my dad purchased a chrome Raleigh mountain bike for my eighteenth birthday. This machine was incredible, and an entirely new level of adventures opened up. Plus, it looked fantastic. I rode that bike for many years, exploring canyons, and it followed me to Orange County, California, where I tried to get an engineering job.
At that time, there were few jobs in San Diego, and I hoped the larger cities around Orange County would have better prospects. But, alas, I ended up at Kinko’s making copies—a degrading and menial experience. On top of my job difficulties, not having a girlfriend or professional work stressed me out.
To ease my tensions, I began taking bike rides after work. This physical activity improved my mental outlook, plus it was healthy. But what is the stress reduction difference between a bike ride and some other physical activity? I have run, lifted weights, walked, swam, meditated, tried yoga, danced, skipped rope, hiked, and stretched for exercise. While these are excellent physical activities, I did not find they were good at relieving stress
Why? Cycling takes tremendous focus at some stages and almost none at others. It is a three-dimensional activity with scenery, challenges, danger, and physical exertion. The success is evident at the journey’s end because the rider has advanced from one location to another.
What is my stress-reducing process? At the beginning of a ride, I only concentrate on riding. Then, about ten minutes later, I relax, and my focus drifts from the ride to other areas. This supporting mindset allows me to think about issues, problems, friends, my job, solutions, life, and relationships. Yet, sometimes, my mind ends up going to baffling places.
Do I listen to music or a podcast to help me relax? No, this is a special time, and I do not want to experience somebody else’s creations. Instead, the scenery, other riders, trail challenges, and physical exertion provide entertainment and a natural distraction. Such genital distractions help my creativity and problem-solving by breaking up thoughts, which means that one thought does not dominate my time.
Do I recommend bike riding to others? Yes and no. Exercise has become a religion for many people. If a new person begins lifting weights, baseball, or boxing, they can be hazed by the experienced. I would never try to push my beliefs toward others.
I can attest that bike riding helps me, and everybody should be physically active for many reasons, including mental health. Bike riding is not for everyone because it is dangerous, and unlike a treadmill, riders must keep going when they get tired.
You’re the best -Bill
May 31, 2023
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