My interest in biking started when I first used the Capital BikeShare in DC to take my husbands cousin on a tour. My love for biking started when I bought my first bike as an adult. I jumped on Craigslist and searched for a decently priced bike in my size. My then boyfriend wanted to get me started on exercising in a fun way. Getting to know DC on a bike while exercising sounded like an awesome idea.
Just to give you an idea on my thoughts of physical activity, I was that skinny little girl that would go to an adult mens soccer game and jump in because I always thought I could play hard enough. Obviously, I would end up getting hurt and my dad would end up pulling me out of the game, but my stubborn thirst for competition continued throughout the years. Having my boyfriend ask me to join him in these biking tours almost seemed like a challenge, so I was up for it and spent $500 on my bike. It was a cerulean blue Lemond Tourmalet, barely used and in awesome condition.
If you’re seeking to bike as a form of exercise, I advise you buy a bike that fits your size. You will see tons of bikes that look “cool,” but don’t shop with your eyes as this will lead to you buying something that won’t suit you. Figure out if you want to do mountain biking, or road biking. Will you want a fixed (single speed) geared bike or a bike with different speeds. What kind of tires will you need, does your area have bumpy or smooth roads? All these things and more will need to be considered when biking a bike. Most bikestores will have a helpful salesman to help you choose, or you can have a handy husband that does all the research for you and tells you what to buy. 🙂
Second piece of advise would be to find out how much exercise are you looking for. Is this an occasional recreational bike ride thats 2 to 3 times a week or daily? How intense do you want this to be? To be honest, it can become addicting especially when you realize just how fast you can go and get a rush from the thrill. Just make sure you are prepared with the proper equipment and are always SAFE. Its important to know the consistency of your rides because it will help you decide how much you should invest in your equipment. This includes a helmet, a pump for your tires, gloves, front and back lights, and more.
We first started our “bike tours” by trying to get to know DC as much as we could. We figured that if we lived so close to the nations capital there should be no reason to not know the ins and outs. We first started with the monuments, then moving on to the restaurants, then to neighborhoods, learning shortcuts to here from there. We made goals as to what we wanted to accomplish. This made the time go by so fast since we were exploring the area and it was FUN! We simply could not get enough and looked forward to our next ride. Make sure you set goals so that you have something to look forward to, it will make it so much easier.
After riding around, getting familiar with our bikes and the area, that is when the exercise peace started to kick in. We wanted to crank it up and go faster and farther. We started looking for trails, and started tracking our activity. Strava is an awesome app that keeps record of the distance, the speed, ascendance, and almost anything you can think of. This is when I really started to become competetive and tried to keep up, if not do better then my husband.
Looking back I am amazed at how far I’ve gotten. Biking really becomes a lifestyle and second nature. Biking to work all of a sudden makes sense and you wonder why you didn’t do it before. Biking on a trail becomes an afternoons journey and you get home feeling good about the day and glad you enjoyed it. The best part is, YOU WERE EXERCISING THE WHOLE TIME! Who knew exercising could be so fun!?
I will not compare biking outdoors to the cycling machine at a gym because it simply does not compare. You can loose weight doing both and it is ones preference whether they want to workout indoors or outdoors, but my husband shed weight after biking to work for a summer in comparison to going to the gym for a year. Loosing weight does not solely depend on the form of workout, but on the consistency, determination and healthy eating. Keep in mind that being healthy and exercising does not always directly lead to weight loss. It’s all a matter of keeping that heart, those muscles, those lungs and your body running in optimal condition.
My suggestion? Don’t be scared. Larger cities are starting to embrace the cycling community and incorporating bike lanes on major and minor roads. France is seeking to have parts of their major cities with bike access only with public buses as an exception. San Francisco is one of the largest bike enthusiasts cities in the states, AND THEY HAVE CRAZY HILLS EVERYWHERE?! Start small my friend and the let the bike take you places, (all while you exercise.)