I hate exercise…yeah, I know…it shows. By exercise I mean artificial activities intended to compensate for the lack of real-life activities. For example, we no longer cut down trees and haul logs by hand, so we need to lift barbels under the supervision of a “trainer”. Instead of climbing stairs at our office building, we ride a stair-climber at the gym.  Instead of walking outdoors….duh…we ride a treadmill indoors like some lab-rat.

I’ve been riding bike a lot this Summer. There is no comparison between riding outdoors on natural terrain vs. riding the same bike indoors on my Tacx rollers. The dramatic shifts in elevation, the sudden starts and stops at traffic lights, the need to balance while waiting for a light to change…are all missing when I ride indoors. I can ride my bike indoors all Winter with very little change in musculature. Yet, after riding outdoors just a few weeks, I am already getting much stronger (if not slimmer, unfortunately).

The key this Summer has been a grudging change that I’ve made in my attitude to riding. In the past, preparing to ride was exhausting in and of itself. It was like a bullfighter’s ritual prior to entering the ring. Don the sweat-wicking underwear, the special anti-chaffing shorts, the riding jersey, the cleated shoes, helmet, and gloves. Check out the bike, pump the tires to the perfect pressure. Do 10 minutes of warm-up and stretches to prevent injury.

Now I ride in flip-flops. No kidding.  And not just my Electra Amsterdam….I’ve even been riding my Sugar 2 (below) that way. The same clothing I would normally wear on a Summer’s day…t-shirt, regular shorts, and flip-flops.

Here’s the sequence:

1. Idea: Hmmm….it would be nice to go for a ride.

2. Grab helmet and padded gloves (my hands get numb otherwise), squeeze bike tires to make sure they’re not flat, jump on bike and ride.

I even do it at night when the heat drops off. Wonderful! My son turned me on to night-riding, something he got into because a buddy of his was working late shift and could only ride in the evening. It’s a whole other world out there at night…raccoons and skunks crossing the road, very few cars, and a wonderful coolness as the dew settles. I installed a Blackburn Flea set (tiny but powerful LED lights) front and back for visibility.

I’ve made a commitment to get back the childlike pleasure of doing things that are fun. If something is fun, you’re more likely to keep doing it. What a concept!

Which reminds me of the old saying….”It’s not how hard you go that counts….it’s how long you go hard that matters”. If I’ve learned one thing in 40 years of being fit and unfit, and losing and regaining weight, it’s this: It’s all about sustainability.

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