‘It’s like riding a bike, you never forget.’ That’s what people say when you do something like drive a stick shift for the first time in twenty eight years. It’s meant to encourage you. However, while you might not forget how to ride a bike, there are some things that have changed. The why.
There are many reasons people decide to take up bike riding in their later years. Insanity isn’t necessarily one of them. Personally, I was drawn to the exercise. When you get to be my age, exercise isn’t just for fun, it’s for survival--and insurance that your body will still work right when you need it thirty years from now.
The price of gas is also a motivator. Have you noticed more people bicycling these days? It was a big decision to buy a bike but a friend tipped the scales for me. She mentioned that she had been riding her bike twelve miles a day to work and back. In two months she lost twenty pounds and saved sixty dollars in gas. I dragged my husband bike shopping the very next day.
The most embarrassing part of buying a bike was trying to find the right seat. When I was young I never gave a second thought to comfort. That was back when that area of my anatomy was firm, tight and shapely. I can’t pin point when it happened, but wham, one day it went from being a compact little shock absorber to being just plain shocking.
I was alarmed when Rick tested the biggest seat in the store and still wasn’t happy. I think he wanted something as big as the saucers that you sit on to slide downhill in the snow. I could picture him whacking people on the sidewalk with it as he drove by. Fortunately, they talked him into a comfortable, more aerodynamic seat.
My biggest concern was buying a bike with enough speeds—one that would gear down enough to ride up a simple incline without humiliating myself by having to get off and push. I should have been concerned about simply making it out of the parking lot without fainting from exhaustion.
It wasn’t until after we bought our bikes that I had my vanity attack. There is absolutely nothing attractive about having a chunk of plastic wrapped around your head. And the havoc it plays with your hair! The question was, did I want to face my grandchildren as a vain hypocrite? There is one redeeming thing in owning a helmet. If I do have to walk my bike up a hill nobody will recognize me.
Despite the humiliation of a helmet, and the fact that each bike cost more than our first car, our bike purchases were a great investment. It didn’t take very long to graduate from an exhausting ride around the parking lot, to riding 18 miles to Castle Rock and back. While we haven’t saved much money in gas yet, we have enjoyed another miracle. My husband actually likes waking up early and riding together every morning. And I always thought it would take an earthquake. As published in CRR July 15, 2012