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Friday, April 8, 2011

Bicycle Bliss

Do you want to improve your physical fitness, save money and do something good for the environment? Hey, why wouldn't you?

Buy a bicycle!

Bicycles are an underutilized, underappreciated form of transportation in North America. Many Asian and European countries do a much better job of taking advantage of what bicycles have to offer.

There are also a lot of options these days for toting your kids with you a la bicyclette. So it can be a family activity.

I am loving my bike so much today. I had a meeting with D., the director of the general therapy clinic where I am doing one of my practicums. Her head office is quite a ways north of where we live. By car it's 30 minutes and by public transport it's almost an hour. Last time I drove and ended up paying $14 for 90 minutes of parking! Besides, Adam had the car today. So I decided to ride up to our meeting.

I admit that given the distance (12km each way), I wondered if I wasn't nuts when I started out today. I gave myself 70 minutes and I worried that I was going to end up being extremely late for our meeting. It is also almost completely uphill. But it took me under 55 minutes - about the same as if I had taken public transport!

As an added bonus, riding doesn't bother my hamstring. My physiotherapist and I finally realized that the pain from sitting must be caused by pressure on that area, not necessarily my position (since sitting on a bike doesn't hurt), so I now sit on a yoga block. Between using a yoga block to sit on, going back to doing a lot of core/lower back rehab, and doing no treadmill walking or excessive street walking for the last few weeks, I have finally gotten some improvement in the pain.

But since no one really knows what the cause of all my pain is, yesterday I had x-rays and I am waiting to get an MRI.

I am so glad to have some improvement but I miss my treadmill walks. I am allowed to run all I want, but I know my knees can't handle too much running, so for now, I am doing mostly the stairmaster, plus Insanity Cardio DVD on Saturdays and my spin class Sundays. My physiotherapist would love it if I could spin more often, but I explained how hard it is for me to find time to get to the gym. Perhaps a $1000 spin bike will fall out of the sky into our home gym one day. Or perhaps I'll just have to get out on the road more.

Just a few things to remember:

1. ALWAYS wear a helmet (if you don't you are an idiot)
2. Wear proper clothes and gear (pant protectors so you don't get anything caught in the chain, gloves when it's cold, appropriate foot wear, etc.)
3. Use lights at night and always have reflectors and a bell on your bike
4. Find bike routes whenever possible.

Really why would you not get a bicycle when there are so many advantages? Free transportation, fast and efficient, great exercise and environmentally friendly!

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