“I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like” – Queen “Bicycle Race”
Yesterday I went on my first bike ride in, oh, 20 years or so. Here’s a photo of me in my helmet and standing next to my spiffy new bike (click on the image to make it larger). You can’t see it strapped to my back, but I bought a little pink backpack to match my pink water bottle. I figure if I’m going to ride a boys’ bike and wear a helmet, I need something that says, “I’m really a girl!” while riding. I’m vain that way.
Larry and I went to Cook Forest State Park and rode a 10-mile round trip stretch of the road that winds along the Clarion River. Although I’ve been on this road hundreds of times, riding my bike there was like seeing it for the first time.
It’s five miles from the Cooksburg Post Office where we started to the Clarion River Lodge where my daughter was married last August. By car it takes about 10 minutes to get there because you can’t drive very fast. All these years I thought I’d appreciated the river and the forest from my car since the river doesn’t zip by like it would at 65 mph, but on my bike I realized that seeing it from the car is a scenery shortcut. Seeing the ducks and the swallows and the hills and rocks and the small white rapids of the river from a bike is much more interesting.
I kept looking down at my legs and expecting to see the thighs from a few years ago, but my legs are not the thighs of days passed. I thought I’d be winded and unable to keep up a 15-mph average and yet I had no problem aerobically or with endurance. Ten miles was, dare I say, easy and I’m ready for a longer stretch next time. Not bad for a chick who two years ago was 300 pounds and still needs both knees replaced.
I’d long envied people like my husband who rode their bikes with such ease, hardly seeming to break a sweat even when faced with hills. They glide and their bodies arch and I knew it was fun because I remember riding my bike as a kid, no hands down a long hill and feeling so free. I wanted that feeling back. I wanted to believe that riding a bike really was like riding a bike – something you don’t forget how to do. And I wasn’t disappointed.
After we loaded the bikes on the bike rack at the end of our ride, I tossed our helmets and my backpack in the back seat next to my husband’s golf clubs. ‘We’re becoming the couple I always wanted us to be,’ I thought. We’re active together.
My husband has always been athletic. Me? I played softball for awhile, liked tennis, worked out now and then back in the day, but for seven of the nine years we’ve been married, I was obese and not physically active at all. It was monumental, then, that last year we went canoeing and hiking a few times. It means even more to me that this year I can keep up (and pass) my husband on a bike and workout just as hard as, if not harder than him in the gym.
I can say in all honesty that for the first time in my life, I love my body. Take THAT fat chick in my head!