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Ride Your Bike to Work! Spin You Can Believe In
May is National Bike Month. According to my incoming emails, it's also Healthy Vision Month and National Celiac Awareness Month, but I can't see why I would talk about the pleasures of being gluten-free when I can peddle the tireless arguments of the Ride Your Bicycle More Than You Do Now revolution.
What's stopping you? You don't have to wear those ridiculous latex outfits advertising motor oil and gear shifters, gorgeous as they are. Riding your two- or even three-wheeler — to work, to school, to buy your lottery tickets — is the upside of the downward slide many folks feel these days.
Going by bicycle instead of car saves money, conserves gas and — a blissful boost to mental fitness — helps calm our frazzled brains in ways that even a good red wine never will.
And that's not all. Bike-riding gifts you with invigorating exercise, stronger muscles and a way to get to work without polluting the air. It offsets your carbon footprint at the same time it reshapes your thighs into something stronger, firmer, less jiggly.
Conscious consumerism would have you go out immediately and get yourself the strongest, lightest, most reliable bike you can afford, used or new. And ride it! And be sure to outfit your kids, too. Motivating kids to bike to school and around the neighborhood is a wheelie good way to jumpstart their fat-clogged metabolisms.
When I was a kid, highly influenced by Spin & Marty, my bike was my horse, my stallion, my ticket to freedom, and it still feels like that every time I ride. Many of my best travel adventures include a bicycle — through Italy, along the Danube, in the North Woods of Wisconsin, across the farmlands of southern France. I can still remember the smell of garlic in the field. Or was it my t-shirt?
How often do you ride? Just for fun, answer this: What would it look like if you decided to ride your bike to work? May is the month to act on it, since Ride to Work week is being celebrated right around now.
As your most personal trainer, I say join in! Give it a go. An experiment. If you're not having fun after three times trying, you never have to do it again.
But for some of you, riding your bike to work can become a habit, even if it's just on casual Fridays or moody Mondays. Here are some ride-to-work biking tips inspired by an ingenuous new company called RentaBikeNow.com, renting bikes coast-to-coast — a terrific site for people who want to make bike-riding part of their healthier, happier lifestyle:
— Before you jump on your bike to ride to work, use your car to help you plot the best route. Best is synonymous with less traveled streets.
— Experiment with different routes. The shortest route isn't necessarily the quickest or most comfortable. There are many Internet sites for mapping (www.mapmyride.com is one), and good local bike shops should be able to help guide you, too. Don't be shy about asking for advice.
— If you work farther away that you can pedal, don't give up! Consider combining your bike ride with a train, bus or subway. Enjoy the stares.
— Take it easy! You don't have to work up a sweat on the ride in. If you crave speed, hightail it home.
— If you do get aromatic or mussed up riding in, keep a spare change of clothes at work. A handy box of baby wipes is useful, as is soap, water and a small, quick-dry towel.
— Ask your employer about a safe place to park your bike. Gently campaign to make workplace bike parking available for all. So many empty offices these days, perfect for all-day bike storage.
— Network with the other bike commuters at your workplace. Share tips. Motivate others. Become a cog in the wheel of change, waking others up to the fun and challenge of bike commuting.
— ALWAYS wear a properly fitting helmet. Obey all traffic laws. Have your best time.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! BIKING FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE?
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." — H.G. Wells
Marilynn Preston — fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues — is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, http://marilynnpreston.com and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com. To find out more about Preston and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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