Aaaannnnddd… Problem solved.

Like mine, but in better condition

I’m glad I didn’t get rid of my old bike — “Old Ironsides” I call it, because it’s an ancient three-speed similar to the one my dad used to ride to work each day. I guess I hung onto it, because it reminds me of those days when my dad was still young and vigorous and had the energy to bike to and from work — and come home for lunch in the summers so we kids could spend time with him.

Anyway, I picked up Old Ironsides one day when I was out doing errands. Where I live, when people don’t have use for things that haven’t yet worn out, they put them out on their curb with a ‘free’ sign, so people will help themselves. I threw Old Ironsides in the back of the van, and it’s been in my basement for the past 11 years or so.

I’ve pulled it out, now and then, to ride around, but it’s an old rattle-trap, with a slightly bent wheel in the front, and a bit of of bumpiness when you ride along. But the brakes work, and the gears still shift. It’s still a solid bike, and I’m glad I hung onto it.

I have been really challenged with my physical fitness, lately. I am lifting weights more deliberately now, and I also spend time each day juggling, which is good for my coordination — and my frustration tolerance. I have an exercise bike, and I ride it sometimes. I also take long walks on the country roads around my home, as well as hike in the woods. But sometimes I need more.

I used to have a really awesome bike — a Specialized Roubaix road bike, which was so light, and so good on bumpy surfaces. It was easy to ride, easy to handle, easy to put in the back of my little car and take wherever I wanted. The thing was, when I had it, I was struggling with balance issues, and I was not doing well with being out and about on my own. Riding my bike on back roads really concerned me, because of traffic and distractions and the potential of falling.

So, I sold the bike to someone who would love and care for it very well. It was a wise choice. But I have missed that bike ever since.

In the past years since I sold it, I have gradually gotten better about my balance and my ability to stay focused on what’s happening in front of me. I am still uncomfortable with the idea of ranging far and wide beyond my home on a bike, because I can’t afford to get hurt and not be able to get home. There are also lots of hills around my house, so it’s a killer workout to ride bikes around here.

But within two miles of my house, there are enough gently rolling hills and enough untraveled back roads that I can ride Old Ironsides on. It really gives me a workout, just pedaling up gentle inclines — let alone the 45-degree slopes not far from my front door. I have enough road to ride, just within a 2 mile radius, to get some exercise, get my blood pumping, and feel the wind rushing past me. Also, my bike is not good enough to go that fast, so the issue of velocity is… negligible.

So, this afternoon, I dragged Old Ironsides out of the garage, hauled it down to the gas station, filled up the tires, found my good bike helmet, threw on a fluorescent orange t-shirt, and took the bike out for a spin. I didn’t have to go far, to tucker myself out — but I also had a good time pedaling and covering some ground. I know it’s not the most advanced piece of machinery, but it got me exactly where I wanted to go, and back, so that’s good.

I’m feeling really positive about this. Another fall is not something I care to experience, and that chance was always in the back of my mind with the other bike. This one is literally incapable of moving at the kind of speed that’s a danger to me. It’s sturdy, solid, and it does the job it’s meant to do — move a person from one place to the next quicker than they could go on foot.

So, I’ve had my exercise for the day, and I’m looking forward to doing it again, when I get some time. Safety first. And then plenty of fun.

Well, it’s time to get some supper.

Onward.

Wear your bike helmet – properly

Wear it properly – if you don’t, it’s like you’re not even wearing one

A few months back, I endured participated in a Franklin-Covey workshop at work called “Five Choices to Extraordinary Productivity”. Aside from the three-day investment loss of time (which I really couldn’t afford to lose), the ideas and principles they talked about were a mish-mash of eclectic brain science and some repackaged versions of buzz-speak that’s been floating around in personal improvement circles for years. For those who never heard of any of it, I’m sure it was eye-opening. Perhaps. I found it mildly frustrating and more than a little annoying.

I really needed that time to actually do some work, instead of having someone tell me I’m making “wrong choices” with regard to the work I do. It just wasn’t applicable at all — although I did learn some nifty Outlook techniques that I’ve used to my advantage.

Anyway, not long ago business author Steven Covey (who wrote “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) died as a result of complications from a bike accident back in April. I wondered what sort of bike accident – must have been pretty bad… then forgot about it.

Then the other day I saw a kid riding a bike with a helmet on — and the chin strap unbuckled and dangling loose. Not much point to having a helmet on, if you’re going to do that. Out of curiosity, and on a hunch, I googled Steven Covey’s bike accident, and I learned that he sustained a head injury when he flipped forward over his bike while going down a hill. His helmet was apparently not properly fitted/fastened, and he hit the ground with his head. He also had broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung.

For heaven’s sake – if you’re going to wear a helmet, make sure you wear it properly. Tighten the strap snugly under your chin and make sure you have a properly fitted helmet.

I don’t know if Covey was wearing his properly or not, and I’m not even sure if it was the brain injury that did him in. But if you’re not wearing your helmet properly, you’re really not wearing a helmet at all.