28 May 2010

Pedal Away!

Now that my daily schedule is a little more flexible, I have committed to riding my bike as much as possible instead of using the car. Occasionally I still get in the car and wonder why I didn't take the bike. But with summer here, there are a lot more hours to safely ride and with front and back flashing lights I can safely ride after dark as well.

I have ridden to the post office, copy store, magazine stand, thrift shopping and to the grocery store this week, some of those places several times. The big thing you have to remember when riding to the grocery store or farmer's market is that you can only buy what you can carry home with you on your bike. I can fill my basket, and put a few bags on the handle bars if necessary. But I don't want to be riding more than a few blocks if things are that precarious. I could add a basket or two on the back of my bike for additional packing space. There are even some great bikes being made in Utah that give you enough cargo space to bring home a week's worth of grocery or tote around a couple of kids. See Madsen bike here

I still remember the thrill of learning to ride a bike in the gravel driveway of our family friends home. I think I was four and a half. The older girls would sit on the back of the banana seat to help balance the bike and I would pedal.  By the time I was five I was riding my bike to my piano teacher's house a mile away from home. I rode my bike across town to softball and baseball practices in elementary and junior high school. In high school I rode across town to my summer job every day.

When I lived in Denmark we would ride to town with large bags of dirty laundry balanced precariously on the back of our bikes then ride back with clean clothes afterwards. No wonder we put off laundry as long as possible. In Denmark we rode bikes every day in the heat, rain, snow, sleet, day and night. No big deal. There was nothing more fun than riding into central Copenhagen on an old 3-speed surrounded by a pack of other cyclists of all ages. I miss living in such a bike friendly country!

Los Angeles isn't the easiest place to bike, but it is possible. So I'm throwing out a challenge to everyone everywhere. Get on your bike. Tote your kids around and run your errands. Visit friends, go to the park, the library, the bank, the post office, the store on your bike. Give your family the joy of evening bike rides together. Ride your bikes to church -- it is doable - just plan your wardrobe accordingly and if you like bring a change of shoes with you. Ride to the mountains, to the beach, to get an ice cream cone.

In some areas you'll move faster than the traffic on a bike. There's a certain glee in that! You'll burn calories, have more energy and get your exercise in while you are taking care of your daily to do list. Nothing better than achieving your tasks and exercise goals at the same time. Plus you get a little sun on your cheeks and a good dose of vitamin D is great for you every day. Plus biking gives you tight, sexy calves.

Look online for bike routes in your town. There are a lot of bikers and web sites out there sharing information online and encouraging cities everywhere to support safe biking routes. In LA it's legal to ride on the sidewalk, and since so few people walk, it's a pretty safe place to pedal. There is also a bike route all the way to the beach that starts just a few blocks from my house. When you start looking for them you'll realize there are a lot of bike routes and paths around. There's a safe and simple route to almost anywhere if you do your research.

If you don't have a bike, check out options to buy a great used bike at places like craiglist and other online sale sites. Check out local pawn shops. When it comes to kids bikes, there are always people selling little bikes they don't need anymore. Check local yard sales and all the great kid exchange options out there. Spruce it up with some new accessories: handle bar grips, a cool basket, stickers and it's as good as new!

If you have little ones, too small to ride, there are great trailer and kid seat options that make including the entire family a breeze. There are inexpensive bikes available at big box retailers for around $100. And if you already have a garage full of bikes that have been sitting for a while and need a tune-up, check out REI. They frequently teach basic bike care classes for free. See their class schedule near you on their web site.

So let's make this the summer of biking. Shall we? Who's going to join me? SAY YES!

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