By Brenda Clough
Activity does not come naturally to me. Turning pages is about as much work I really like. So for years and years I did nothing except what daily life called for. Of course toting toddlers, loading and unloading groceries, and executing elaborate paint jobs upon house walls is not exactly the life of a hothouse flower, but it doesn’t count. Physical activity apparently has to be more. (This week Vogue Knitting has a bumper sticker that reads, If knitting were exercise you could bounce a quarter off my ass.)
Even turning 50 had no impact on my indolence. What got me going was the price of gasoline. When it first got to over $4 a gallon, about 3 years ago, that was enough. I began to bicycle to work. Every bicycle commute trims 20% off my weekly commuting costs, yes? A financial factor is far more influential than any other, for me!
And bicycle commuting is so much fun — much more fun than commuting by car. I am lucky enough to have a trail connecting my two destinations, and to work in a ground-floor office. So I never deal with car traffic and don’t even carry a lock — I can roll my bike in by my desk. It is about 7.5 miles each way, which makes for a nice 15 mile ride. I have gradually increased my bike commutes to two or even three days a week, weather allowing. The only thing that stops me is weather — there is no real way to bike over ice. I have seen box turtles, rabbits, a coyote pup (unless it was a fox), and snakes.
For a year or so I used my son’s bike, he being away at college, but I soon prevailed upon Santa to bring me my own. I have a wicker basket attached to the back (think the Wicked Witch of the West, kidnapping Toto at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz movie) to carry the daily paper. I have accumulated many amusing accessories and accoutrements, like an Ipod Nano and a red biking miniskirt. It obviously enhances safety, to have vivid clothing, and I am now on the lookout for neon green or yellow ankle socks.
The amount of bicycling I do doesn’t seem to have any weight-loss benefits; I would probably have to seriously train to get lean and whippet-like. But my lower half is indeed more toned; if the quarter doesn’t bounce at least it doesn’t sink in and get lost!
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out exclusively from Book View Press.