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Let’s Go Fly . . . A Bike! July 16, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor.

Now that we are re-situated, we are working to develop good habits which take advantage of all the sunshine here in the Sunshine State.

We swim in the Gulf and in our neighborhood pool. We walk along the island’s sandy shores and through the adjacent preserve. We visit parks to hike trails through mangroves and pines. We’re learning to kayak. We play ping-pong and shuffleboard at the Activity Center, and frisbee on the beach.

And we are biking again after an absence of many, many, many years.

As a kid, I rode a bike on a regular basis ~ a habit that I abandoned once I went away to school. Until moving here, it had been 30+ years since I’d ridden a bike with any regularity.

During those years, I could count my bike outings on one hand. We rented bikes once to ride around Chincoteague Island in Virginia ~ a lovely eight mile ride to the beach and back. When my niece (who is now 18) was two, my sister convinced me to ride to the park with them ~ a distance of about 4 miles.

When . . .

Oh, wait, that’s it.

Two bike rides equals the sum of my bike riding experience in the 30 years preceding our move to Florida.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I rode my Schwinn Aero-Dyne (stationary cycle) more than 4500 miles in the past 20 years . . . but that’s not really the same thing, is it?

When cruising on the stationary bike, I could read or watch TV without worrying about maintaining stability, swerving around puddles, getting chased by dogs, checking traffic, or remembering the appropriate hand signals for starting, stopping, and turning.

And I could ride without having an knobby bike helmet shifting back and forth on my head like a toddler who has had enough sitting down for one day.

But, even if it hadn’t been 30 years, I would still be a biking virgin on my sister’s loaned bike:

* My last bike had 3 gears – hers has 21.

* My last bike had handle bars located a comfortable distance from my shoulders ~ hers requires me to stretch in such a way that my hands go numb.

* My last bike had a big honking seat, comfy and cushy, and soft ~ her bike seat is as hard as the pit of a peach, and about the same size.

About the same time my hands go numb, my butt turns numb as well.

But I love it.

Riding a bike is a bit like learning to walk . . . you never really forget.

I enjoy the feeling of freedom as I fly around the neighborhood, pedaling and coasting, coasting and pedaling. I enjoy experiencing the sights and sounds and smells that one would miss from a motorized vehicle . . . well, most of the smells. A few smells have been decidedly unpleasant.

After a few trips around the neighborhood, the bike became an extension of me, rather than an alien object requiring constant attention: I mastered the art of checking my watch, or turning to check traffic, without losing my balance; I managed to scratch an itch with one hand, while continuing to steer with the other; and I mastered the art of braking without screeching to a halt ten feet shy of where I intended to stop or careening into the middle of the intersection because I overshot my mark.

But, there is still something that I need to work on . . . making a U-Turn.

Right now, the turning radius on my Honda Civic is about half that of my turning radius on the bike.

Moreover, my Civic has wonderful stability as it maneuvers around curves, circles, and traffic islands. My bike does not. My car handles beautifully, without wobbling, teetering, or toppling over as it enters into and glides around the sharpest of hairpin curves. 

My bike does not.

But I’m getting there.

One great thing about biking ~ parallel parking is a breeze.

If I miss the mark the first time, I pick up the bike and shove it where it belongs.

Let’s Go Fly . . . A Bike!

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Are you a fan a bicycling?  Or has it been years since you last sat on a bicycle built for two (or one)? 

Swing by Tilly’s blog and wish her well as she becomes a Cycling Diva!

Related posts: An Island in the Sun * A Walk in the Waves * Explore the Great Outdoors * Brave New Adventures * Cycling Diva (The Laughing Housewife)


1. misswhiplash - July 16, 2011

I loved the post and I ;loved the fact that after all these years you can still stay on a bike. I never had a bike as a child but I did try once when I was about 55 , then I pulled a muscle in my back. LIke you I did have a static bike for diet/exercise but as you say it is not the same.And it had stabalisers!
I don’t think that cycling, as good as it is for your health and well being, is really my forte.
But you are brave and I admire your guts and determination

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

Biking is best (for me) in areas without too much traffic. I ride my bike around our neighborhood or in the neighboring preserve.

When I see bike couriers in New York City weaving in and around traffic, my heart stops. {{schreech}}

hugmamma - July 17, 2011

Sounds like my experience with bikes. Had one as a youngster, which I ran into a trellis adjoined to the side of a building. Also had a friend run into the back of mine with hers. Don’t know how long that bike survived to tell you the truth.

Never learned to ride bikes with brakes on the handlebars. So that tells you how long it’s been since I’ve mounted a bike.

Downside is my daughter never learned either. Oh, we did purchase bikes for all of us once, hubby, she and me. But a few rides, and walks, up and down the hilly roads where my daughter grew up in Connecticut, quickly disavowed us of the sport.

hubby and I stick to walking…my daughter prefers dancing. 😉

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

Walking is one of the best exercises around ~ it can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any expensive equipment.

Walk on!

2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - July 16, 2011

I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike! Remember your sunscreen.

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

I’ll never compete with Lance Armstrong, but pedaling around the neighborhood (back and forth to meetings and water aerobics) is wonderful.

Great reminder. Sunscreen is a must in Florida. 😀

3. SuziCate - July 16, 2011

If I miss the mark the first time, I pick up the bike and shove it where it belongs. – love it!!!!! I was enjoying bike riding until I fell in my driveway and I wasn’t even riding! I hit my shoulder and tore my knee up pretty badly, however I was thinking about getting back on it today.

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

I remember your posts about biking along dirt (mud) roads with the Dirt Man. I expect that you are a hardier sort than me!

I’m glad that your shoulder and knee are on the mend.

4. Paula Tohline Calhoun - July 16, 2011

I adore bike riding, but alas! My dislocated tailbone makes it very difficult. While my legs could probably stand it, I think I would have to have a seat custom-made, soft and large enough for my big bony rear end, with a cut-out where my tailbone is, but shouldn’t be!

I will only ride a three-geared bike, and have the one handlebar that I need at a range that doesn’t require that I lean over towards Pitttsburgh just to hold on. Three gears are all that are necessary, because I do not plan on riding up hills any higher than three gears would aid me.

I would of course have to be decked out like a toddler in a roller derby! Padding wherever possible, and a helmet that would be suitable for life on Mars.

So, once we get that all straightened out, let’s you and me go fly a bike! I’m game! :mrgreen:

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

My sister and BIL ride on a Quad Bike ~ might be just the thing for you. It’s like a paddle boat on wheels, with riders sitting side by side on a seat to peddle for forward momentum.

nrhatch - July 16, 2011
Paula Tohline Calhoun - July 16, 2011

Oh, look, Nancy! Can you see it? That big pig flying overhead! Must be time to buy one of them there quad biks!


nrhatch - July 16, 2011

I can see you racing up and down the mountain on your brand new bike . . . with the pig flying directly overhead! 😀

5. Lian - July 16, 2011

For me cyclic is daily business, being Dutch and all. It’s funny to imagine people like you who haven’t used a bike in 30 years… How do you get around moving from and to places like work?

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

In MD, I worked 26 miles from where I lived. I commuted in a car four days a week. Not a good use of time or energy.

Better to live within biking distance of work and shopping.

6. Patricia - July 16, 2011

Sounds like a great way to enjoy exercise. I haven’t been bike riding in 40 years! Sometimes I think about getting a bike but there is so much traffic around here I would be scared to leave the parking lot.

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

I don’t enjoy riding around heavy traffic.

It’s quiet in our neighborhood and quiet in the preserve across the street. I have ridden over the bridge to Anna Maria Island a couple of times. The cars and trucks whizzing past detract from my enjoyment of the experience.

7. Tammy - July 16, 2011

Keep pedaling Nancy!

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

No rules. Just ride! 😎

8. kateshrewsday - July 16, 2011

Now I just want to get on a bike and cycle off into the forest!!

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

There is such a feeling of freedom when I swing myself up onto the seat and glide down the driveway.

Walking is great . . . but biking does feel a bit like flying.

9. barb19 - July 16, 2011

Yaaaaay for bike riding – and good on ya for starting again!
I can’t remember never having a bike. When the kids were little I rode around with them on the back of my bike (one at a time!) and I have the calf muscles to prove it!
I finally managed to persuade the hub to get one and come riding with me as we now live in a flat area with no hills (he doesn’t do hills). He has COPD so the exercise is good for improving his breathing.
Happy biking days Nancy!

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

That’s one of the lovely things about Florida ~ hills are few and far between. I’m not sure that biking would be a good fit for me if I lived in New England. 😀

I’m glad that you and your husband enjoy biking together.

10. Carl D'Agostino - July 16, 2011

Any hints oil spill, damaged wildlife? Refuse to believe all that just disperses and disappears.

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

I haven’t seen any problems here, but I’m sure that wildlife is still affected by the spill.

11. therealsharon - July 16, 2011

I STILL don’t know how to ride a bike…..People tried to teach me when I was a kid and I would constantly fall off the moment they let go of the bike…even when they didn’t warn me….I finally gave off and figured I just would never have the right balance to ride a bike….so I guess stationary bikes will be the only bikes for me!

nrhatch - July 16, 2011

If I hadn’t learned as a kid, I’m not sure I would have the guts to learn as an adult . . . unless something really motivated me.

That said, if you have enough balance to walk, you probably could learn to ride a bike ~ or you could get an adult sized tricycle. They are comfortable and have BIG baskets for carting stuff around. And there are recumbent bikes which also offer more comfort and stability than standard two wheelers.

My sister has balance issue and rides a quadricycle for exercise. It’s like a paddle boat on wheels, with riders sitting side by side on a seat to peddle for forward momentum:


Whatever you do, do NOT start out on a 10 foot tall unicycle! 😀

12. earlybird - July 16, 2011

Well done! I tried a bike again recently and felt very wobbly! It’s true that the shape of a bike does seem to have changed beyond all recognition!

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

When my sister first loaned me the bike ~ I wobbled like a Weeble made of Jello. I teetered like a totter. But I stayed on.

After a few days, my muscles remembered what they needed to do to keep me sailing along.

13. granny1947 - July 16, 2011

I haven’t ridden a bike in 25 years.
We are having massive strikes here at the moment.
Petrol is running out in Johannsburg.
We might HAVE to think about bikes again.!
When I got to the part about the Honda Civic I got all green.
Our hired car in Swaziland was one.
I drove nearly all the time.
I fell in love with the car.

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

This is my second Honda. I drove the first, a Honda Accord Hatchback, from 1987 – 2000, and this one, the Civic, since 2000. It still looks and feels like a brand new car.

Using less gas is great, but scarcity and strikes and diminished reserves are not. Hope things get sorted out soon. I don’t see how you would be able to bike across the mountain every morning to get to work . . . especially with those baboons hanging around.

14. walterwsmith3rd - July 17, 2011

Hi Nancy, glad to see you are enjoying ‘flying a bike’. If you have been following my blog, you know that I am a lover of the bike. I have been riding since I was a child, and now that I live in the mountains, I do both mountain and road biking. The mountain biking is very challenging indeed. I am lucky to have a girlfriend who also bikes with me and we can share these experiences. Biking with someone makes all the difference. If you need some motivation right about now, check out the Tour de France. There is one week left and France is beautiful this time of year. Check out my blog and my bike tags for some artistic images and thoughts about biking.


nrhatch - July 17, 2011

Mountain biking is very challenging . . . a bit beyond me at this point ~ I prefer relatively flat terrain. Glad that your girlfriend is up for the challenge.

I’ll check out your bike tags.

15. walterwsmith3rd - July 17, 2011

And speaking of exercise and new experiences, I am about to post a new post on ‘caving’ which I did this past week at Worley Cave in TN. I have some great photos I think you will enjoy. I have already posted part one and part two is coming this weekend. No matter our age, it is always good to challenge oneself physcially. Just take small steps to achieve your goals.

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

I enjoyed your Cave posts ~ part 1 and 2. It is contemplative to be in the total darkness of a cave . . . but disorienting as well.

When you hold your hand in front of your nose and can’t see it, you begin to wonder if it’s really there. 😀

16. Cindy - July 17, 2011

Enjoy it, I haven’t been on a bike in yonks. But I am resolved to walk every day from now on.

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

Don’t overdo it until you’re fully recuperated from that nasty flu that knocked you ass-under. 😉

Slow and steady wins the race.

17. Tilly Bud - July 17, 2011

I love your take on parallel parking!

Thanks for the mention 🙂

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

So . . . did you get the bike? Have you had a chance to take it for a spin? I’m heading round to see . . .

18. colonialist - July 17, 2011

I am a great fan of the bicycle as one of the greatest inventions ever. Not the ones that don’t go anywhere, though. That would bore me to tears. Also, I don’t see the point of pushing oneself to get nowhere faster. I like to cruise and see the scene I’m passing through.

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

The stationary bike was BORING . . . but practical in northeast winters when there was NO WAY I would have biked out of doors in the snow and slush and icy winds.

I read a book while riding to make the time pass.

I’m definitely NOT a speed racer when biking out and about. I like to coast along, like you, taking in the scenery.

19. souldipper - July 17, 2011

Yes, I do have a fabulous bicycle – 21 gears – and it’s taken me on the ferry and all the way into Victoria a couple of times. That’s about a 30 mile trip each way. The route is the defunct railway line that’s been made into a fab trail because it have very few hills. I love the journey.

Riding on my island, however, is another matter. I don’t do it! Our roads are narrow, windy and very hilly. We have no bicycle paths which means we share these challenging roads with traffic. Islanders are used to cyclists (with harrumphing), but tourists are deadly. They are not used to our roads. Adding bicycles to the mix is not recommended.

City people, without thinking, bring their bicycles for their once-a-year family ride – even though we warn people of the dangers. Yike! We really hold our breath as people wobble and jerk – then walk – bikes uphill and around obstacles.

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

I always picture islands as ideal places for bicycles . . . but riding on winding narrow roads with traffic is probably a recipe for disaster. Glad that you have the Rails to Trails pathway into Victoria.

Do you do 60 miles in a day? Or spend the night?

20. Linda - July 18, 2011

I might be one of the only people who has never enjoyed riding a bike. Always had one though. I a little red bike that I had in France that I rode through the house. I remember my first big girl bike, a big aqua colored thing with baskets and huge fenders. I remember all of the other kids helping learn to ride it. Then there was the year all of us got brand new fancy modern racing bikes. Mine was a little too big. I had numeras accidents and spills on it. I never really enjoyed bike riding. I tried it again a few years ago and still didn’t like it.

nrhatch - July 18, 2011

It’s not for everyone. I never missed it in all the years that I didn’t ride. Once we moved here, I decided to give it another shot and really enjoy it. My farthest ride so far is 12 miles, round trip. That was plenty for me.

Did you grow up in France?
I like the idea of bike riding in the house. 😀

21. jannatwrites - July 18, 2011

Unlike roller skating, bike riding is something I still do in adulthood without any injuries. We ride our bikes in the winter when the weather is nice but avoid the main roads because we’ve got some scary drivers.

I can’t parallel park the car very well, but you’re right – parallel parking a bike is a snap 🙂

I’m glad you’re enjoying the bike riding. I know you’ll get those u-turns down with a little more practice.

nrhatch - July 18, 2011

I like biking best on designated bike lanes so I don’t have to compete with traffic. My turning radius has gotten better, but I’m not competing with bikers who slam on the brakes and get the tail end to swing 180 degrees . . . with no wobbling.

I don’t expect that I’ll pick up roller skating again . . . although I would like to try roller blading at least once. 😉

22. eof737 - July 18, 2011

Love your biking journey… I haven’t been on a bike in decades and never really did much of it as a child… So I don’t have much to say on the subject. I admire those who continue to use it as a mode of transportation. 🙂

nrhatch - July 18, 2011

Depending on where you live (and how averse to traffic you are), biking is a terrific way to get around, especially for short hops, skips, and jumps.

My favorite ~ riding it back and forth from meetings held about a mile from our house. No need to get into a hot car for a short trip, or find a parking spot at the other end.

23. Pseu - July 18, 2011

I’m glad you’ve found your saddle again

nrhatch - July 18, 2011

That reminds me of Aerosmith ~ “I’m back . . . . back in the saddle again.” 😀

24. jelillie - July 19, 2011

The last time I biked (years ago) I crashed into a guy coming the other way! I am a bicycle menace. Maybe it’s time to get back in the saddle (or the seat as the case were) and threaten the world again!

nrhatch - July 19, 2011

Ouch! If you decide to start biking around Florida . . . please give me advance warning so I can keep a good look out. 😉

25. souldipper - July 19, 2011

Yes, we do that trip in one day – get up nice and early so we can be back at the ferry before the last one.

One time a male friend and I took a car to Victoria, then cycled another part of the same trail that goes northwest to the West Coast of Vancouver Island. (The trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail that 22,000 km long. This section is named the Galloping Goose. The Trans Canada goes all across Canada and even up North! It’s fabulous.) Craig and I found a delightful restaurant and lulled a little too long. The last 3/4 of the ride back to the car was in the dark! That was a riot. There was no moon and we had no lights. We navigated by the opening to the night sky and praised the people who keep the trail in such good shape.

nrhatch - July 19, 2011

Wow! To bike 60 miles in a day is impressive. Love the name the Galloping Goose. Glad you made it back to the car in the dark. I’m still more impressed. 😀

26. aawwa - January 22, 2013

A good read! Thanks for linking me to it 🙂 I love the bit about parallel parking – I don’t even try in my car.

nrhatch - January 22, 2013

Thanks for sharing your biking experience, Lorraine. It’s great to be “back in the saddle.”

27. Brave New Adventures | Spirit Lights The Way - June 11, 2014

[…] Learning to ride a bike after 30 years away from the […]

28. tarakianwarrior - January 17, 2017

Maybe someone has already suggested it, but when turning turn your inside knee outward, it will balance you better and make for a sharper, quicker turn. 🙂 I love biking.

nrhatch - January 17, 2017

Good tip! My U-Turns have improved in the 5 years since I posted this post.

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