Well a couple of months ago I made a tough but necessary decision to be cycling. Unlike most people, it didn’t start out with good planning like finding seven reasons to cycle, buying cycling gear, reducing global warming etc. but I must say that I am vigorously checking these boxes in retrospect!! Exciting! For me? I just start and make the rules as I go.
So, after my second fall this morning 10th February 2015, I must find a good reason why I do this! Surely, not because I want to die on our crazy roads but because I want to live, and live long. A bit of a oxymoron! I looked up the benefits of cycling and read that they include increased cardiovascular fitness (check), increased muscle strength and flexibility (woo! I need that – check), improved posture and coordination (hmmm-what are they saying about my…), decreased body fat levels (yeah I want that! check!!) prevention or management of disease (check), reduced anxiety and depression, reduced emission (that’s great!) etc. The list is endless.
My cycling adventure stemmed out of two things. One, the desire to be active (I have played basketball, football, name it over the years) because I wasn’t having time in the busy town jungle and life pressures to do exercise and second, because the doctor kept telling me that I have High Blood Pressure, despite never having such a diagnosis before. I needed to manage it!
So, I bought a second hand bike (Giant mountain bike-God bless ya’ll) and decided that the best way to get this done is integrate exercise into my daily routine. I have to get to work and I have to go home (well, at least most of the time). Initially biking was great since I was using back routes with less traffic. In fact, I have never had an incident until one week to Friday the 13th! My first accident on Friday 6th February 2015, after a near miss with a car, I rammed into a pedestrian.
The dangers of riding in towns without cycling lanes are real as I am coming to realize. First, as a cyclist I tend to take the middle lane in slow traffic, faster and less drudgery from the overlapping matatus. There is need for acute awareness on the road when biking just like when you are driving. Good anticipation and confidence on your lane is also key to ensure that you are predictable and visible. To note: please please, when you are “overtaking” a truck, bus or car in slow/fast traffic and you cannot see its front, be very cautious! Cars, people, animals, carts, rats, rubbish, you name it, tend to just appear in front of these vehicles just when you think you are clear and that is the worst. Both my humpty-dumpty falls would have been avoided if I was simply cautious. Glad I am alive, well and kicking! I was reading about five gadgets to make you safer when biking but for a good part of it, they are costly and cannot replace your head or heart when you get “fatally flawed”!
So rule of thumb, always be confident and observant. Do away with those headphones when riding, the tune of death doesn’t come through them! It’s very dangerous. Also, get the proper gear, at least bright clothes and a good helmet! Proper riding gear ensures that you are visible from a distance and also helmet increases your safety in case you have to hit the the ground. Choose a route with less traffic if you can!
On a more positive note, besides two sore shoulders and a bashed in elbow, I must say that in a matter of 3 months, my pressure has lowered from 156/105 to 131/98, which is fairly normal for me. Aside from the carbon I belch or excrete on and off the bike, I am positive to be living green!! As for the improved posture and flexibility, I really don’t know…