Life in the Bike Lane
You six or seven (I’ve gotten confused over the exact number) loyal readers know I have never met a 50 mile/5 hour bike ride I didn’t like. They are fun, a challenge, something with which to impress the grandkids and often have a donut involved.
But one does not need to labor up Baxter Grade on the way to Higgins Corner to get the benefits of bike riding.
One hour will do it.
According to research, in the first 10 minutes you will be overcome by a tidal wave of euphoria. OK, the research didn’t put it that way, but it does say you will feel “happiness and motivation”. Happiness is a motivator. The pursuit of it is in the constitution, albeit the Founding Fathers left out the “on a bike” part.
After just 20 minutes on your bike, the hormones causing stress will begin to decrease. Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, will begin to blow away (that’s the scientific term), with the help of a couple of other hormones. I suggest you head out into the country, away from traffic, to enhance the stress reduction.
After just 40 minutes, serotonin levels begin to increase. Serotonin stabilizes your mood. Since you were starting to experience happiness and motivation just one half hour ago, this is good. Research confirms cycling relieves stress, improves self-esteem, reduces migraines, lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s, boosts creativity and enhances donut availability.
Just 5 minutes later, weight loss begins. How much depends on several components: your weight, the speed at which your ride and how long you ride. If you weigh 150 lbs and ride for an hour at about 10 mph you will burn 350-400 calories. Combine that with a healthy diet and you’ll see some positive changes. Remember, you can’t ride away from a bad diet.
I don’t know where you live (that would be a little creepy), but if it’s anywhere in Lincoln, it is easy to find a flat, safe ride if you are just getting into cycling. I like the bike path that skirts the west and south side of Lincoln Crossing. It has some great views and active beaver ponds. Try the Virginiatown/Fowler/Fruitvale loop for an easy and beautiful 10 miles. Most major thoroughfares have good bike lanes.
Go to the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency website (pctpa.net) for a good map of paths and bike lanes.
You don’t have to have fancy cycling duds. Jeans and a sweatshirt are OK. But please, don’t pull on your favorite dark grey hoodie and take off. Find something bright. You can buy a hi-vis construction worker vest for $10 that will fit over anything.
Get a bike, take baby steps, turn it into a habit, know the rules of the road and find a friend to go with you. You can’t wait around for happiness to show up, unless you are expecting donuts to be delivered from your favorite bakery.