Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun On a Bike

Yesterday I spent time at Ladies First - a women's health fair put on by the local hospital with participation by a variety of businesses and health services.  I was there to promote our Fun On a Bike program.

This program is not a bike club or even a very organized group, it is just a few people who love cycling trying to get other folks to drag their bikes out of their sheds and garages and get them moving again.  Each meeting will include a fun ride on the bike path and some kind of presentation on things that most people have to learn by trial and error - how to inflate your tires, how to check your brakes, how to shift gears and when, the benfits of cleaning your bike every once in a that.  I am hoping to make it fun so more people will come.

Last night I enlisted the help of others and we had 7 bikes of various types (two on trainers so people could try it out), a display of helmets and some flyers promoting the program.  Sally Stasney and Shirley Smith, fellow members of the local bike club participated by talking to folks that came by and telling them about the various bikes and about how much FUN we have riding them.

It was a great evening for people watching too, but it made me sad to see so many unhealthy looking people.  I estimate 2/3 to 3/4 of the people there (including me) were overweight, many were morbidly obese.  Especially disturbing was seeing so many obese children.  

We must do SOMEthing to help our population be healthier, Fun On a Bike is my contribution. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tour de Corn

Saturday is the Tour de Corn ride.  This is NOT a race.  It is held in the bootheel area of Missouri - the area is part of the Mississippi River flood plain and is therefore FLAT.  It is also HOT.  For the little town of East Prairie, MO it is a major event and everyone in the community participates.  

One of the things that impressed me last year is that even though they have a pretty much captive audience, the town businesses do not try to take advantage of the influx of visitors - menu prices are the same as they are all the time, prices on gas, water, food and other supplies stay at their non-ride levels.  They welcome the business that the ride brings into the area, but they aren't tempted to take undue advantage of it.

The entire community supports this event, which benefits a variety of charities.  People stand along the roadside cheering, they make cookies for the SAG stops, they man the SAG stops,  they provide comfort and encouragement, they even change their driving patterns as roads are closed or partially closed for the ride.

Last year was the first time I did the ride and I rode 67 miles, which was a personal best that stood for a loooong time.  This year I am post Southern Tier and my feelings are quite different.  I had originally planned to do another Century, but I will be traveling with a less experienced rider (planning to do the 35 mile ride) and she will have to wait for me to finish.  The weather in this area will either be HOT, or HOT and STORMY - last year the temp was in the high 90s by mid-afternoon.  And I won't have a riding partner.    The 65 mile ride poses the same conditions.

People asked me before and during the tour how I thought the tour would change my riding after it ended.  I, of course, had no idea - I figured I would either hate cycling and never do it again or I would want to do more and more of it.  It isn't that simple.  

What changed is how I think about cycling.  I now have nothing to prove, to myself or others.  I have done a century.  And a whole big bunch of metric centuries.  I don't need to do it again just to prove I can - I proved that.  What I am finding is that I am no longer doing any riding that isn't FUN.  I am willing to work hard to achieve new goals but that effort and achievement have to pay off in pure enjoyment.

 And now it comes down to the ride on Saturday.  If I think I can have fun doing the 100, I will.  If I think the 65 is more fun, I will do that.  What I am thinking right now though, is that I would rather ride with Sally and enjoy her achievement of a personal best - it would be FUN.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

Pictures to follow if I can get my new phone to cooperate.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My new calling

Today a local clinic had a FIT 4 ALL AGES festival.  It featured 5 and 10K runs, information and  goodies from a variety of vendors, barbecue and a fire engine.  And for the first time it included a 5K fun bike ride and free bike helmets.

I got so busy passing out and fitting bike helmets that I completely forgot to take pictures!  Some people had been riding without helmets, some people didn't have a helmet that fit, some people had no idea how to wear it properly.  Some people didn't even ride bikes, they just like free stuff.

This was the first year a bike ride had been included so we had no idea what to expect.  Turnout was fair and we had 3 groups go out for the 5K ride with a guide to help them with safety tips, etc.  My "group" was a lovely family of 5.  Dad had a trailer on his bike for the 3 year old, the baby was in a seat behind his saddle.  Mom rode her own bike and the four year old rode her pink Barbie bike while wearing a tutu.  All had their new helmets on.

This coming Thursday will be the first Bike Incubator (not its actual name) ride.  It is an activity we have started to get more people having fun on their bikes.  It will take place on the local bike trail and is designed to give people who are new to biking or just coming back to it a non-intimidating place to start.  Several older women today expressed an interest in coming - I can't tell you how much that warms my heart.

Each time we will have a focus on bike maintenance, bike safety, riding tips or something else that de-mystifies the culture and vocabulary of biking.  It is not designed to take the place of a bike club and we will not be organizing formal "rides".  It is just a place where people can get together and share the joys (and struggles) of cycling.  We expect/hope that it will spawn several groups with similar interests to start organizing their own rides and/or motivate them to join the local bike club.

I hope this goes well and that I can participate in more activities like the one today.  Since the tour, my own rides have been less than satisfying.  It feels good to ride and I enjoy it, but there is just not the satisfaction I got on the tour.  It took me a while to figure it out.  I really enjoy going from point A to point C, no matter how far apart they are.  Turning around at the halfway point (B) and going back isn't nearly as much fun, even though the distances are the same.  Sigh.