Give Yourself a Little Gift – Ride a Bicycle

3 women on bicycles on unpaved country road, U...

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We came across this great letter from 1999, published in the Post & Courier and written by a tenacious woman named Mindy Spar.  Read it and be inspired! (For the full text go to the P&C archives)

I want to ride my bicycle

Published on 06/17/99

BY Mindy Spar
The Post and Courier

Anyone who owns a car in this town knows that driving around here can be a headache. With all the one-way streets, pedestrians who don`t look where they are going, carriage drivers who don`t pull over when they are supposed to and tour buses that drive zero miles per hour, getting where you are going can be tough…..

I bought a bicycle about a year or so ago with intentions of riding it to work. Somehow, I kept finding excuse after excuse not to. First I didn`t want to ride home in the dark. Then when it stayed light later, I decided it was too hot. Then I couldn`t figure out a comfortable way to ride in a dress. Then I realized I had way too much stuff to schlep around and I couldn`t possibly carry it all on a bike. Then I kept hearing story after story of people`s bikes being stolen, and I figured my bike would be much safer if I didn`t use it.

After the bus incident, I decided to get real and put all of the excuses away. I spent the weekend gearing up: I bought a basket to carry my stuff in, bought a super-duper lock to protect my bike, I found some bicycle shorts to wear under my dress, and I decided to pull my hair back in a ponytail and to not be afraid of a little sweat.

D-day (or should I say B-day, as in bike day) dawned on Monday. I woke up early in anticipation. Every few minutes I checked the sky, but, alas, there were no rain clouds in sight. I pulled on my shorts, tied back my hair, secured my belongings in my basket, and off I went.

It was exhilarating. Even with the heat there was a bit of a breeze, and it felt great to be in the open air.

Usually, I drove the same route to work every morning, so I decided to weave through the back streets on my bike. I noticed new details on houses I`d seen a thousand times; the interesting way a porch curved on one house, the leaded glass windows on another, the latticed gate to a garden at yet another. I marveled at the amount of restoration and renovation that is being done in the downtown neighborhoods.

Before I knew it, I was at my destination. I was amazed that it took the same amount of time as driving had. And I felt great, albeit very sweaty. I was clearheaded and empowered to tackle the day.

Now, I ride to work every day. Instead of wishing for storm clouds, I dread them. (One day I had to drive to work and I appreciated my bicycle all the more; by the time I negotiated the traffic and bad drivers, I was a stress case before my work day had even begun.)

I vary my route and try to discover new things daily. I also watch the progress of the renovations and am excited by the new vitality in some of our older neighborhoods.

If I had only known what a great way this was to start the day, I would have thrown off those tired excuses ages ago. Granted, my sitbone and my legs were a little sore for a while, and my co-workers have had to deal with my outdoorsy odor, but those little inconveniences pale in comparison to the overall benefits.

Those benefits are endless; a chance to get some exercise, discover new things, clear the mind and body of stress, and do a little bit for the environment.

But the biggest benefit of all is, I feel as if I`ve given myself a gift. A gift of permission to take a few minutes every day to do something beneficial for myself. This is something in this hectic, rush-rush world we too often forget to do. Try it and see what a difference it makes.

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