Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cycling greenways and why it might become a habit

I am a utility cyclist. At least, I still like to consider myself as one. I hardly ever cycle "just for fun" or "because the weather is so nice". I cycle when it is the most efficient way of transport.

In fact, that's also why I don't cycle so much anymore. Since two months now I live only 5 min from work (by foot!) and a similar distance from the nearest grocery shop. What initially sounds great also has some side effects. I simply don't get enough exercise. Every day I feel less and less energetic and less efficient at work, but am more tired and more distracted with other things. Cycling from and to work was not just the perfect way of moving my butt, but also a good isolator between work and leisure. I am missing both of these positive effects, but am trying to replace them by something else now.

The missing exercise I started to replace by short morning runs at the Danube canal bike path (in fact a combined foot and bike path). I've been known to run quite a bit a few years back, but it will take a good while to get back into shape. However, I still miss the cycling. Jogging is just too slow and doesn't get me anywhere nice. It's also way more exhausting and I need a shower afterwards. But still I can't feel the wind in my hair!

That's why I now thought about recreational cycling on the weekends. Because it will serve a lot of purposes: my bikes will be ridden regularly, I will do some exercise, see new places and occasionally also spend some time with friends who are interested in weekend trips. I never really liked the concept of recreational rides much, but I think it's just because I know a lot of people who only cycle in their free time but would never use the bicycle for transport...

What do you think about leisure cycling? Any experience?

Read soon more about my first recreational ride with Paula, Jacqueline and Velouria (from Lovely Bicycle!) along the Danube bike trail...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I, too, have generally only ridden a bike when I needed to get somewhere, and had a hard time relating to the concept of riding for its own sake. My attitude has been changing over the last few years, and I can now easily see that riding a bike for fun is, well...fun. One way to ease the transition is to set yourself a goal of having an adventure or going somewhere fun in your leisure time. At that point, the bike is once again the utilitarian tool you know and love - it will get you there. Having freinds to ride with helps, too, but it's not the only way. Val

Velouria said...

I hate to run or jog and I am very bad at it, so this has never been a viable form of exercise for me. Cycling, on the other hand, does not feel like exercise at all; it feels no more strenuous than walking. Slow cycling = strolling; fast cycling = fast walking. No big deal. Before I rode a bike, I used to often go on walks 'to clear my head". And now it's the same with cycling.

On another note - and this is not meant against you - but I don't know why some people like to make such a big deal that they "only cycle for transportation"; it feels like a competitive/snobby issue sometimes. Everybody's lifestyle and interests are different, and one type of cycling is not any more "real" than the other. I mean, imagine saying "I only walk to get places and never for the sake of walking". Can anybody really and truly say that they never enjoy a stroll to look at nature or go window-shopping in the city?

anna said...

@ Anonymous: Might be a good idea to "get somewhere".

@ Velouria: Well, in fact it wasn't just cycling for only transportation, but mostly. In my childhood I was very much used to leisure cycling with my family, but I feel disconnected from these memories. Just like many people cycled in their childhood and never again when grown up. It feels strange, but not in a bad way :).

plepe said...

I've always used my bike for transportation as well recreation, and I don't see a reason why I shouldn't. It's a very good tool for both things. It gets you around the city fast and it also gets you to the countryside comfortable.

Stephan.

She Rides a Bike said...

I don't do much recreational cycling. I prefer to use it to get from here to there. Not that I don't enjoy the experience but I prefer to work exercise and movement into the regular part of my day rather than to carve out time for it. The only time I bike for recreation is during a group ride, which serves the purpose of social interaction and provides a destination - the pub.

Anonymous said...

As many of us in this age bracket, I am currently getting back on a bicycle (at age 37) after 20 years of not riding and am loving it! I live in the Midwest USA which normally requires a vehicle because we do not have good public transportation and everything is so far spread out. Here, one typically uses a bicycle for recreation because there is usually no way to use it as regular transport for daily living. I have realized, however, that luckily, I can get to Target, two other grocery stores, the post office, bank, chiropractor, hair cut place, library, and pharmacy all by bicycle! I'm not in the norm here in the Midwest! I don't know how much I will bicycle as transport because I also have a young toddler to factor in, but am enjoying the leisure side of it for now. I am trying to fit one of my bicycles to handle a couple bags of groceries so we'll see how that comes along for me. Recreational riding can be very enjoyable. I particularly like taking a recreational ride, a book, and ending up at a local coffee shop.

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