This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reasons to ride a bicycle: Reason #3

While the lessons I learned from the seat of my bike seem endless, I've narrowed the list down to four main reasons why I still ride. I've posted two of them already here at BIKE WITH JACKIE and have two more to share with you this week. In two prior posts, I mentioned how riding a bike can be a challenge and also teach awareness. Today, I explain the importance of time alone with your thoughts and how a bike can provide that time for you.

Reason #3: It will serve as a refuge.

As wives, as mothers, as parents, as friends, as co-workers, as employees, as bosses, as everything that we are and have ever been in life, those of us who have learned to be caretakers frequently forget to take care of the one person who counts the most in our lives--us.

We forget we count, too. Women, especially, seem so willing to give up on taking care of number one in lieu of taking care of everyone else in our world. Everyone else, even the family pet, seem to come first. How can you begin to make time for yourself then, to begin redirecting attention inwardly.

You can start riding a bike. Provided it's not a tandem, pedaling a bicycle along a quiet path is something you can do alone. For as long as possible. For as long as you need. Daily, if you can.

When I first rediscovered the bike in my garage, I don't know exactly why, but I started riding it. In fact, I was drawn to it. There wasn't much thinking involved, thank goodness. Recently separated from my husband of 10 years, I was too numb at the time. When I woke up in the morning, or got out of bed, I would immediately get dressed, put on a pair of tennis shoes, and go for a ride. It became as automatic as making a pot of coffee. It became equally as important to the start of my day. It didn't matter if I'd been up all night crying. It didn't matter if I'd been unable to sleep and watched black & white movies on cable TV all night long. Just as soon as I decided to get up, I knew I'd ride. I was prepared for it.

I literally moved past my divorce from the seat of my bike.

It served as my refuge. It was that one place where I could go and no one followed. It was that one place where I could cry out loud, laugh to myself, or sing if I wanted to, and no one else heard me or judged me.

The time I spent on the seat of my bike provided me with time to ponder, time to consider, time to wonder, time to dream, time to see things from a perspective that was mine and mine alone. It also allowed me to step back from my own thoughts and consider the input I recieved from others. People are always quick to tell you what to do, how to feel, what to say in times of stress or turmoil.

That time alone saved me from later saying or doing things I might have regretted, because, as you know, what works for some doesn't work for all. From the seat of my bike, I learned what would work for me. For one thing, just because my then husband may have said something childish to me, I didn't want to respond to him in the same way. Perhaps ignoring him was the best response. I could think that through from the seat of my bike. My sister would have preferred I use a few choice words, but that isn't my style. I learned to get clear with the message that needed to get out versus the message that might have gotten out had I not taken the time to think it through first. Time alone is good for that.

My bike rides also gave me a safe and healthy place to release my anxiety. As I stretched my body to push past those steep hills I'd confront every few miles, I saw the hill as my soon-to-be (or not soon enough) ex, or his divorce attorney. When I could see that I had left that nasty old hill behind, that symbolized to me that I'd reached another milestone. I'd taken care of myself yet another time. I was going to survive the trauma. In fact, I was going to be all the more stronger because of it.

I may not have recognized that without having the time alone to think through the ordeal for myself. It's easy to be pulled along by others when you're hurting or feeling defeated. But when you turn inward, look inward, and see for yourself what you're really made of, confidence compells you to act in a way that will leave you feeling better not bitter.

If someone wrongs you, no matter who it is or why, it's important to take the time to consider how you will respond so that you don't feel victimized but instead feel victorious. From the seat of my bike, I gave myself that time. The rides were my refuge from other people's thoughts about what I should or shouldn't do. For once, I gave myself time to decide what was best for me.

Isn't that also a good reason to ride?


Debbie said...

Hmm've given me a few things to ponder, Jackie. Years ago, my husband and I used to ride our bikes on the canals. I always got a bit frustrated because he was always faster than me and he'd sometimes get impatient with me. At least, we always got to our destination. And come to think of it, that used to be to have breakfast at Jacqueline's in Scottsdale. We'd ride from Northern and 7th Street to Scottsdale, have breakfast and then ride back. At least we burned up the calories we consumed.

But I never really thought of riding my bike alone. I wouldn't have to keep up with anyone else. I usually hike or go on my treadmill because it's convenient. But sometimes I get bored and need a change. After all, I have several bikes in my garage. I'd probably have to check the tires but they should be good to ride. Thanks for your reasons to ride. I'll have to link back and read the other two I missed.

The BIKE Lady said...

That's a good ride, Debbie. I ride the same canal as well. My favorite part is just past the Biltmore Resort, when you can see the Praying Monk over the horizon.

It's a peaceful ride, a great place to think, and perfect for connecting with your own inner feelings.

When riding alone, you don't have to worry about keeping up the pace with anyone else. It's a good exercise in just being.

Let me know how it goes if you do decide to ride alone. And let me know what you think about the other posts. Thanks for the return visits.

I appreciate your comments.


Top Dog Eileen Proctor said...

Wow Jackie... this is great inspiration for getting on the two wheeler more!

My dark bicycling history has been to pump up the tires each January with intentions of riding at least 3X/week for exercise and "me" time. I immedately take an initially euphoric ride around the neighborhood but soon remember that I live in a highly angled (aka mountainous) area of the Valley... beautiful to look at but not so easy to trek up (down is easy!). So much for the commitment to exercise. Rides become further and further apart unless VOILA... it's January again and time to repump the tires. Your inciteful posts have helped me to add to the reasons to keep on rollin'!

Now I just have to wait until my broken ankle is healed! But once it is, I'll be liking my biking!

The BIKE Lady said...

I'm happy to inspire another rider, Eileen.

Thanks for your comment.