Sunday, April 1, 2012

My bike challenge

How does one stay in good physical shape in the city?  That was the question that plagued my mind upon arrival to the urban setting.

At the ranch, activity was part of daily life.  Physical fitness was not a goal it was a by-product.  There was never enough energy to do all that was on the list and I fell asleep each night with the exhaustion that can only come from fresh air and a good physical workout.  I could eat anything and as much of it as I wanted and still not gain a pound.  Just doing the daily feeding and watering was a mile of walking the rounds, there was lifting, fixing fence, shoveling manure, mowing, digging,  housework, and jumping on a horse or working them in the round pen.

I quickly noticed after coming to the city that it was harder to fall asleep, and if I ate as much as I used to the scale showed an undesirable increase.  On top of that I was sitting all day at a desk and exercise was a trip down the hall.  I also noticed that most people around me had the same challenges and many had not found a way to overcome the effects of a sedate lifestyle.

I contemplated the gym option but knew it would not work for me. I can't stand the idea of moving in one place and not going anywhere. The activity no matter how useful for health reasons causes me to feel even more like a gerbil on a wheel. Swimming sounded like a wonderful idea.  I searched for a swimsuit, obtained the key to the community pool and just when I had progressed to wading to my waist and doing a few stokes winter came and then we moved.

Walmart had a great sale on bikes and being influenced by Jacob at ERE I courageously bought one after not riding for more years than I can remember.  They do say that once you know how to ride a bike you never forget so I was going to test the adage.  As I wobbly went for my first trip around the block I learned one thing: there were muscles in my legs that had not been used for forty years and riding two houses down and two houses back was no fun.  So the sparkling bike went into the garage for a year and I was back to the drawing board.  I wonder if they give refunds or exchanges for these old bodies.

Walking continued to be my first priority and the trip to the bus stop the destination.  Regularly I was doing a mile and a half and in the longer days was able to increase it to 5 miles but I could only do that a few months of the year.  Up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator also helped. It was just not enough and the pneumonia caused a big set back so I couldn't even handle the cold winter air and had to give up the walking.  I could feel the atrophy setting in and my pants getting tighter and tighter.  I was either going to have to take evasive action or find myself having to get a larger wardrobe.

The bike riding idea is still on my list but I knew I would have to build up to it.  And, here it is!  My $20 garage sale find and new challenge:

It has taken me six months of patient looking.  When I spotted the bike being used as a clothes hanger I screeched with glee scarring the others with me.  I had to laugh when the seller told me that she had bought it months ago at a garage sale for $30, used it once, and it has been sitting in her garage ever since.  As you can see it is old but practically new so I wonder how much the owner before that used it.  The American economy is clearly an amazing thing.

The goal is to ride a few minutes daily (almost) and build up my leg muscles then hit the road with the real thing later this spring.  I will check back with you and let you know if I get my $20 worth of use or sell it at our garage sale for what I paid for it.

Note:  some readers may recall that I mentioned personal health issues a couple years ago.  This was not related to my general activities but a story for a different time. 

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