Biking for health and conscience
I have not owned a car for a little over a year. I ride my bike now. I made the decision to go “carless” last March. I had been thinking about my health, the health of the planet and my personal responsibility for how I live on this planet.
I had lived without a car in Paris and in San Francisco where public transportation can be readily found. Paris has no less than 368 Metro stations, not including 87 stations of the RER railroad, which is similar to BART and that links up with the Metro. San Francisco has a little less to offer in terms of public transportation, yet it is very possible to live there without owning a car. Nevada City however, is a different story because the bus does not go up all the hills that I need to go up.
It’s ironic that last March, just before my “rig,” as I called it, lost first gear, I was really wishing to ride my bike more. As the car waited in the front yard for me to make the call to the sick car people, I just couldn’t bring myself to fix it.
I decided instead, to dust off my mountain bike and start anew. It was a lovely time to begin this new lifestyle because it was spring and the slower pace of bicycle riding offered time to enjoy the beauty of our region. Summer was a challenge with the heat and I had to organize to bike in the morning or later in the day when the heat had subsided.
Fall was a joyous break from the heat and then I moved right on into winter which offered new challenges, with the cold, snow and rain. On the really stormy days, I asked for rides and during February, I was able to use my friend Diane’s 4×4 when she was traveling, and was grateful to be cozy and warm inside it. But on the clear days, I loved the crisp air on my face as I whizzed along the road on my way to town.
Now it is spring again and I welcome the colors and the sweet scents of the blossoming trees once more.
For the past year, I have been riding my bike about five to six days a week. I don’t need to belong to a gym – biking is my exercise while I’m doing my grocery shopping and getting to work. Biking is pure joy, but also challenging. It is almost always fun, but it is always a real effort to go up hills and to find the energy in my body and the will to make it happen. I am somewhat reasonable in the distances I travel by bike and I plan out my errands judiciously.
Here are some things that helped to make my biking lifestyle work.
• I wore many brightly colored layers. The more fluorescent, the better.
• I bought a rubber jacket and biked in ski pants for more serious weather.
• I learned to pay even more attention to what is going on around me.
• I take back roads if I can, and I often get off my bike and walk facing traffic on the side of the road for clearer safety.
• I eat much more and have a quicker metabolism. For the last year, I have had two jobs next door to Ike’s Quarter Café, so I often satisfied my appetite with their remarkable and healthy local food.
The biking is working out well. My body is strong and toned – I have muscles that I never knew existed on my calves. I’ve saved the money I would have spent on maintaining my car, gas, insurance, etc. And people are always waving to me in support as I bike along the road!
Biking is one way that I’ve found to take care of the well-being of my body, the well-being of my conscience, and well-being of the planet.
Filling the tank with gas has created grave issues for our health and the health of the planet. We are also fighting in the Middle East and making unsound moves in the world because of our need for oil. If this seems like too much for you to do – what about one day a week? Is there any errand that you normally do that could be taken care of by bike? Maybe not, yet I encourage and recommend the adventure to anyone who is willing to try it!
Joanna Meyer has enjoyed the beauty, charm, and contrasts of Nevada City off and on for nine years and is eager to share her love for biking and healthy practices with the community.
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