Biking down Memory Lane

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2014

By Jett Johnson

I’m not a cyclist. I don’t get up in the morning and bike to work. I don’t jump at the opportunity for a weekend ride on Sunday afternoon. I don’t watch the Tour de France and I don’t own one piece of spandex sports apparel. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike.

I do, however, remember the first, brief moment I was able to balance on my bike while learning to ride on a gravel road. I’ll never forget the gratification of getting comfortable on a bike at a young age.

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We forget as adults that riding a bike is fun. It takes us back to those first few moments of freedom we all enjoyed as we wheeled down our neighborhood streets as kids, pedaling as fast as we could toward whatever adventure awaited us.

We may not be kids anymore, but cycling can be fun — and healthy.

We’re at a pivotal point in the year. The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing, and your bike is calling from the dark, unattended corner of your garage, waiting to be set free. You have a choice. You can leave that bike to collect pollen until winter gives you the excuse not to bother with it for another year, or you can release it from the dusty garage. It might be tethered, tangled, rusty and weathered, but your bike will be happy to see the light of day and take you on another adventure.

The Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community recommends the latter course of action.

A half hour of biking can burn up to 250 calories. Riding around the neighborhood with your kids or taking a stroll through one of Suffolk’s parks builds up a healthy heart, strengthens coordination and endurance, aids your immune system, and more. It’s something quick and fun you can do by yourself, with friends or with your whole family. Why not take a quick ride now and then?

How often have you awakened in the morning committed to going on a run, committed to the gym, or committed to a salad at lunch that somehow turns into a guilty pleasure of Oreos and fried chicken? OK, the last example may have some personal testimony from my end.

Spring and summer bring options to improve your willpower to get out and exercise. Trick yourself. We all want to shape up as the warmer months roll around, and taking a bike ride is just one simple way to get there.

It’s time to ride, whether to bring your family closer together, for your own personal health or simply to enjoy the change in season. Be a kid again! Not only did we enjoy the simple things in life a little more back then, like a ride on our bikes, but we were all in much better shape.

I’m making the vow to hop back on my dusty bike. Won’t you?

Jett Johnson is the program manager for the Healthy People Healthy Suffolk initiative with the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community. Email him at jjohnson@suffolkpartnership.org.