Throughout my teen years and into the beginning of my twenties, I lived a sedentary life. I also really love food (which is why I cook in a restaurant). It doesn’t take much to figure out that the combination of those two factors wasn’t good for my health. My energy levels plummeted and even completing a regular shift at work left me drained. I didn’t have the motivation to accomplish much outside of work, all I really felt like doing was sitting around and watching my favorite cooking shows.
But then I started biking to work. Not all the time, but once or twice a week. Although it was fun and it felt good to be out in the fresh air, those ten miles to or from work seemed endless. But as many of you have experienced in your own lives, biking can be rather addictive. Three years ago, I started biking to work whenever I could.
And then my definition of “whenever I could” started changing. First I bought lights so I could commute by bike even in the dark. I began to ride my bike as transportation to other places as well. And I started to go on short morning rides just for fun.
Biking became a passion for me and I decided that I was going to try to biking through the winter. I had no clue what I was in for. Waking up an hour earlier to get to work on time, piling on layers of warm clothes, heading out into subzero weather, trudging slowly through deep snow – it took a measure of determination. It was also the most amazing experience of my life. It made me love winter with a surprising fierceness and cemented my desire to live without a car. Winter taught me how thrilling it is to explore the world and push myself to my physical and mental limits on a bike.
Once winter was over, I bought a road bike and began biking even more, over six hundred miles a month, just for the joy of it. That girl who just a few years ago struggled with low energy is gone. I am constantly surprised by how much I am able to do.
This Monday, for the second Monday in a row, I woke up at 3:30 am for my regular morning shift at the restaurant.
I biked 10 miles to work.
I worked on my feet for 10 hours.
I biked 10 miles back home.
*Interlude of one hour to shower and take care of my dogs
I biked 10 miles to an ice cream shop.
I met up with four other cyclists and rode 15 miles.
I biked 10 miles home.
Thirty minutes later, I was in bed, my alarm set at 3:30, ready to wake me up for another day of work.
It is earth shattering to me that I actually have the physical and mental stamina to work all day and then go out and bike. To see myself slowly transform from a being sedentary couch potato to living an active life, amazes me. And all it took was some time and a bike.
Every day I get older, that is a simple biological truth. But try telling my body that because every day I feel younger, more energetic, more full of life. Biking has reversed the aging process, I feel like a young twenty-something with the energy to take on the world.
And that is exactly what I am.