I got a bike for my birthday (the big photo up there!), and I love it. But now the weather is getting colder (seriously cold next week), so riding doesn’t work so well—unless you’re bundled up! But I got to thinking about my experience getting back on a bike after 20+ years. It was rockier than I’d care to admit, and I learned a couple of things I thought were worth sharing.
Wear shoes with backs
Trying to get your coordination back on track so you can pedal is hard enough without having to worry that your shoes are going to fall off. So make sure you’ve got a good pair of shoes with sturdy backs to wear. And if you don’t have shoes with sturdy backs, find some with a strap. I wore a pair of crocs. And while they certainly can’t be called sturdy, they definitely are resilient.
Do yourself a favor, though. And don’t wear heels.
Go fast enough to keep your balance
When I first got on the bike and was pedaling around the yard, I couldn’t understand why I kept tipping over. I’ve always had really excellent balance, so it didn’t make sense that not riding a bike for 20+ years would have changed that.
Well, my dad pointed out that the slower you go, the more difficult it is to keep your balance. So I pedaled a little faster, and lo and behold, my balance troubles were over! Usually people tell you to take new things slow, but that doesn’t work for bike riding. If you take bike riding slow, you’ll probably just tip over.
Don’t scratch your nose when you’re turning
This one is obvious.
And the consequences are obvious too.
So we’ll just move on.
Loose sand is not your friend—and neither is grass
One of the reasons I stopped riding my bike so many years ago was the lack of good biking trails at the farm. At our house in Wichita, when we lived in town, we were surrounded by lots and lots of well-kept biking and walking trails, and we made good use of them. But in the country, you don’t have that sort of thing. So you need a bike with tires that can handle dirt roads.
My new bike can! But even with my beautiful wide tires, I start wobbling when I hit loose sand. So it’s best to stay out of it if you can.
Grass causes a similar issue. There’s a little thing called inertia that happens. See you start moving at a certain pace, and then when you hit a patch of grass that slows your bike down, your body tends to want to keep going the same speed you were.
Yeah. Bikes should have seatbelts.
Going downhill is fun until you turn around
Riding a bike can be hard work, especially if you haven’t done it for a while. But then there are the hills. Oh, hills! I mean, you can’t really call a Kansas hill a hill… more like a gentle slope. But they sure are fun to ride down. You don’t have to pedal. You can just let the wind blow through your hair.
And then you have to turn around and kill yourself getting back up to the top. But the trip down is worth it.
Going against the wind burns more calories
And finally, the one constant Kansas has: wind. It’s always windy in Kansas, and that spells doom for bike riders, right? No way! Riding a bike is great exercise and burns tons of calories. So imagine how many calories you burn when you ride your bike in Kansas wind, where you have to pedal twice as hard to go half the distance!
So get out there and go ride that bike when the tops of the trees are touching the wheat heads! When you get back, you can reward yourself with a chocolate chip cookie.
Wherever you ride, whatever you ride, bikes are tons of fun, and they’re a great way to get exercise. So grab your gear and get out on the road if your weather is nice. If your weather isn’t nice? … Well, you’re screwed till spring. Go out and build a snow fort instead.