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Is Bicycling All That Bad?
(That you'd rather do this?)
By Chip Haynes
Editor Note: This piece from Floridian cycling essayist Chip Haynes first appeared in Mason's Wire Donkey Bike Zine. Subscription information follows this essay.
It's a rainy day today, so JoAnn was going to drop me off at work. That changes my morning get-ready routine, and gave us both plenty of time to watch the local morning news on TV, which I don't usually do. (Whoa--would you look at all that rain on the radar!) The news is usually full of murder and mayhem, traffic accidents and political intrigue. The morning news we watch tries to end their program with something a little less disturbing, so they have a reporter who goes out and does human interest or soft news stories to finish the show. Today's story was just annoying.
The reporter had gone to a local exercise gym/health spa that was featuring their idea of the latest in "fun" exercise: Playing on a big soft ball. You sat on the ball with your feet on the floor and sort of danced around like a five year old on a sugar high. You waved your arms and kicked your legs and bounced your bottom on the big soft ball. In short, you looked like an idiot. I watched three alleged adults do this--on TV, for all the world to see--and I couldn't help but wonder: You'd rather do this than ride a bicycle? Are you nuts?
I know a lot of people don't ride bicycles because they think it makes them look foolish (but being stuck in traffic doesn't?). These same people drive through traffic to get to the health club or gym, where they'll do all manner of foolish things in a vain attempt to "get in shape." Does it really work? Think about it: If the health club really worked all that well, they'd lose all all their members. So maybe they don't want to work as well as, say riding a bicycle? Probably not. They'd all be bankrupt inside of a year.
So, it's "anything but bicycles" when it comes to getting fit--even if that means flailing around on a big soft ball like a kindergartner on Pixie Stixs. Yeah, that's dignified. Looking good there, pal. Keep at it. No, no thanks. You go right ahead. I'll be over here. Trying not to laugh. Ha! (Sorry.)
Someone needs to tell these people that all they need to do to get in shape is walk a little more and ride a bicycle. No health club dues to apply, no fancy-schmancy equipment, no bouncing ball. No need to drive halfway across town to get in shape. Cut the travel time. Cut the crapola. Ride a bike.
Maybe we need to offer the public more dignified bikes? We need to stop pushing the brightly colored, full-zoot, 85-speed, full suspension mountain bikes. That might help. Stop intimidating the average schmoe with complex bikes they don't need. Give them a nice three-speed with a comfy seat and fenders. And would it be so bad to have real chain guard on the thing?
While bikes are often touted for exercise, simple bikes for normal people seem few and far between. We need to accentuate the "average" here. We need to get the average person to start thinking about good, basic bicycles for both exercise and transportation. (Think of it as cross-training!) It's got to be better than a big, bouncy ball.
Health trends come and health trends go. The bicycle has been with us for over 100 years--and it's not going anywhere. If anything, we'll see more bicycles in the years to come...but not out of choice. Don't want to look foolish on a bike?
Better start practicing now!
For Wire Donkey subscription info, contact Mason St. Clair, Editor and Founder, 3620 Rolland Road, Nashville, TN 37205-2434. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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