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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Nowak: Good bike and clothes a key to enjoying riding

  • For me, riding a bicycle is something of a mystical or magical experience.
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  • For me, riding a bicycle is something of a mystical or magical experience. There are some days at the end of the work day when I am not really feeling like I want to get on my bike and ride the 12 miles home.
    I have even come close once or twice to calling home to get a ride. I know better than to do that, though, because Helen will not drive to the fort and pick me up. She even tells me before I get ready to ride the annual Biking Across Kansas that she will not come out and rescue me if I cannot make it all the way on my own.
    In her opinion, I should not be riding across Kansas if I am not prepared and by her definition, I am not prepared if I have to beg out at some point. So, with a rescue from home not being a possibility, I get changed into my riding clothes, get on my bike, and start on my way home.
    Miraculously, once I get the crank even half way around and the bike starts moving, I am cured and I am in that mystical world of being transported over the land with little to no effort. It is almost like flying at a really low level, especially when I am going downhill, but even going uphill is something of a wonder.
    Personally, I think that this experience is enhanced by having a nice modern road bike and I think that there is a correlation between the quality of the ride and the quality of the bike. I am fortunate to have a pretty nice bike. I also believe that the experience is enhanced by riding in good clothes that are made for riding. I have once or twice ridden in street clothes and I can say that there is a huge difference in the comfort and the quality of the ride.
    I spent many years as a youth riding in street clothes and even in Germany I rode in combat boots and blue jeans while I was stationed there. I did it, but once I shifted to modern biking clothes, I realized that there is a good reason for the better clothing. I really believe that having a great bike and great clothes is the difference that keeps some people riding bikes for their whole life compared to those that gave it up once they were no longer a kid.
    Riding a bicycle on the roads and sharing them with motor vehicle operators has its associated dangers, especially from those drivers that are distracted by cell phones, fixing their hair, or even fogged or dirty windshields. On the other hand, the physical benefits are worth the potential hazard in my opinion.  
    I am aware of several folks in the area who have lost many pounds of body weight and who tell me that their main means of exercise is riding a bicycle. I know of one who also told me that he benefits from a better mental state as a result of his riding.  
    Page 2 of 2 - I know that I meet lots of nice people at bicycling events like the recent Buffalo Bill Century Ride and the annual Fountains Tour in Kansas City. I truly believe that we have to be personally responsible for our physical and mental health. I highly recommend that you consider getting a nice modern road bicycle from a professional bicycle shop, dressing in proper riding gear, and just getting out and riding your bike on a regular basis. I think that it will improve your physical and mental health.
    And on those days that you are thinking that you are too tired to ride, get dressed, get in the saddle and turn that crank and ride anyway. I think that you will also sense the mystical feeling of gliding over the ground with little effort and will thank yourself for taking the responsibility to stay in good health.
    Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.

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