Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Bicycle Commuting

You see those bike riders wrapped up in parkas, scarves, wind pants, helmets...and (dast I dare say it?)...goggles?

That could be me as I continue another Iowa winter of commuting a mile and a half to school every day. I could get a ride--and I do when the weather is really severe with cold and wind--but I've just gotten into the habit. A "green" habit, some might say. A more healthy habit, I say.

Before the school year began this year, I went to my doctor for a health check-up. One of his questions was, "Do you exercise?"

I said, "I ride my bike."

"How much?" he asked--I thought somewhat sarcastically.

"Usually about three to ten miles a day."

"Oh...okay..." was the reply.

I see those who cannot get around, those with disabilities due to age or accident or birth, and I want to enjoy my ability to be physical. Bicycle commuting suits me because I don't have the time to engage in exercise for its own sake--and let me state here that exercising for its own sake, for health, is not bad. I just prefer to bike ten or fifteen minutes to school rather than scrape my car's windshield for five minutes and then drive to work for five minutes in a freezing car.

I like the wind and the rain and the cold and the heat--the senses flush with all the variety of the seasons. I feel blessed to be healthy and engaged in the moment, to be using my body and lowering my carbon footprint.

I am careful, though. Yesterday I carefully walked my bike a significant portion of the way to work and back. The ice was too bad to ride on. I wear a helmet; about eighty percent of bicycle fatalities are due to head injuries. I may look like a Yellow Bubblehead from Mars, but I am happy, healthy, and enjoying God's gift of the day.

As Tiny Tim said in Dickens' A Christmas Carol: "God bless us, every one!" No "Bah! Humbug!" from me.

Copyright 2009 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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