When I started working for the Bloomington Voice in the late 90’s I was thoroughly tired of driving the streets of Bloomington as I had for the last 15 years as a building contractor. A day with only one trip the lumberyard was rare, and jobs were scattered in every direction.
While we live just south of the campus, the Voice office was on S. Old 37, just north of Rhorer Rd., so I bought an old 3 speed Raleigh like I had as a kid in the early 60’s. I rode that every day for about a year till we moved downtown. It got in much better shape, and started doing short rides like riding out to Griffey and up the hill to Bethel lane, and back across to Cascades and into town. I kept expanding, but needed a better bike, and so bought a Trek hybrid. This was great for commuting, but I also started riding 2-3 times a week for 25-45 miles, I averaged about 200 mi/week for several months. That winter I not only felt all that riding in my wrists, but also in my neck, which was unbearable for several weeks. I related this to my posture while riding coupled with new work on a computer while using my bifocals, I was holding my head back to use the bifocals in just the same way as I held my head while riding.
So I tried out Kevin Atkin’s recumbents that spring, and I was sold. You don’t understand how uncomfortable bike riding is till you try a recumbent. No wrist pain or numbness, no neck pain, and no pressure and numbness in the crotch. I’ve been riding it ever since, both in town and for long rides. People ask if it is harder to ride, and the answer is yes and no. There are definitely different skills needed, everything is done with the legs, no help from your weight (you can’s stand up to pump), and you can’t pull on the handlebars. You need skill in shifting, and balance can be a problem, but only in the beginning.
So to answer the question at the top, why ride? I got tired of driving, I realized how much fun riding can be, it was cheaper, and I got to spend more time outside now that I worked in an office. Plus I lost some weight and lowered my blood pressure and increased my aerobic capacity.
Underneath all this was the connection I see between our energy needs and war and environmental degradation. I see a non-car life style as both possible and desirable. We moved from our country home on the premise that we could afford to pay more in the city if we were eliminating 175 miles/week, which also freed up 3-4 hours time. I am not paying the increasing price for gas, and I get so hear the cranes migrate and see a fox running through the grass just outside town. My life and lifestyle are enhanced by my bike riding, if you want to try any of my many routes, just let me know.