Being the supportive, loving, healthy living person I am, I dove right in with, “Yes, let’s buy bikes!” However, as someone who hadn’t sat herself down on anything other than a stationary bike at the gym, the thirty year hiatus from riding a bike was riddled with doubt and dancing on the outer fringes of my comfort zone. And as I knew too well, existing outside the comfort zone is the exact place to be for growth as a person. So grow I did. First thing was to find a bike. I had not realized it, but countless features about bicycles have changed in the thirty years since my daily rides on my bright yellow, gearless Huffy bike. I had never experienced “gears” or “handlebar brakes.” (Apparently those are separate for front and rear...who knew?! Not me. Couldn’t I just pedal backwards with coaster brakes?) I had much to learn and regardless of the temptation to say, “Maybe this isn’t for me,” I pushed on. Growth as a person was non-negotiable! Next up was my assumption that I could purchase a standard 26” adult bike, hop on and go. At a height of 5’ tall, I can tell you a 26” bicycle height is far from standard for a munchkin like me. This involved embracing the idea of a 24” bicycle, a height more commonly found in girls’ bikes—ones with flowers and pink gear shifters. I kept on browsing online (thank you, Google) noting that brands were diverse, as were price ranges. I did consider going to one of the many specialty cycle shops in our state, but figured since this was an experimental venture at best, a trip to my local Benny’s would fit the bill. And it did. There in the aisle of bikes, I found some comfort. Like a long-lost friend, I saw the name “Huffy.” At the end of what seemed like an endless row of snazzy, multi-speed 26” bikes, I found her. A deep purple, 24” Huffy bike with an understated 15 speeds (and no pink or flowers to be found). She was a perfect fit. After sitting on the seat, clicking through speeds and squeezing the handlebar brakes like I was 12 all over again, I made the purchase.
As soon as I got home from work the next day, like an anxious kid, I took my Huffy for a spin around the block. You know the saying, “You never forget, it’s just like riding a bike”? Well that is only somewhat true. What that saying doesn’t account for are things like finding the courage to lift both your feet off the ground and begin that first push of pedaling…and the wobbly factor (as I like to call it). My balance was less than stellar and it took a few go ‘rounds to really ride that Huffy without looking like I could crash at any moment. The other problem was turning. For some reason I had completely forgotten how to turn a corner without the threat of tipping over or putting my feet down. Here I was, a woman in my 40s on a purple Huffy bicycle walking the corners while the neighborhood kids went whizzing by me. If THAT didn’t make me take the darn thing back, nothing would! I stuck with it and by my third or fourth go ‘round, I was making corners and reducing the “wobbly factor.” Over the weekend I stole another fifteen minutes to take her out again. This time I could feel the old rhythm coming back and got brave. I started to fidget with the gears while riding. It was then that a tree jumped out of nowhere and I narrowly escaped a close call...the fidgeting of the gears would have to wait. I figured out which hand break controlled which wheel and played with that a bit while enjoying the brisk downward rush from the neighborhood hill. At that moment I knew I was hooked. Knowing this cycling thing is a keeper, I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure. In the near future, I will be venturing out with my boyfriend for a three-mile ride on our local bike path here in Johnston. While doing some route research, it was refreshing to see so many bike paths throughout Rhode Island. As a runner, I was familiar with a couple paths, but the Bike Rhode Island website (www.dot.ri.gov/community/ bikeri) turned out to be an incredible resource for all sorts of helpful tips. There is information on bicycle and pedestrian laws, bicycle safety, a search feature for finding local bike shops and an immense array of bike path maps and trails to reference. There is such an assortment of options as a cycling sightseer that one can’t help but want to get out there and get adventurous. I have discovered a whole new way of seeing things, even if that view may sometimes come with a little bit of wobble, abrupt stops and less than savvy gear changes. Either way, I’m proud to be a bike owner and now know firsthand that you really are never too old to get back on a bike and just GO!
My purple Huffy is the proof. Rachel Langley is a passionate fitness enthusiast, runner and founder of Body Made Better Fitness. She is certified as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor through IFA and currently studying for her secondary trainer certification through NASM. She is a certified Train Dirty Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and Brand Ambassador for SwirlGear. You may learn more about Rachel and Body Made Better Fitness at www.bodymadebetter.com!
www.rifitmag.com | volume one issue four
The Rhode Island Cycling Guide - RI Fit Magazine Issue 4