Reconnect with the FUN of Bicycling

Me and all my fancy bike gear

Most of us began riding a bike at an early age and recall the exhilaration of independent mobility, proudly shouting “Look Mommy, no hands!” For a growing number of adults, bicycling is an ideal cardio activity, easier on the knees than running, and it is an increasingly practical and necessary mode of transportation in urban centers.
After a decade break from any bike, I finally got back on one in the early 90’s for both fun and function. But over time, I slowly forgot the fun part of bicycling and allowed elite cycle shops and bike club geeks to dictate to me the proper necessities for riding. But one day last year, someone asked me casually, “why do you like to ride a bike, Rue?” and I answered without thinking, “Because it makes me feel like a kid again”. I realized in that very moment that my current adult riding habits hardly resembled the carefree mount on my banana saddle on any given summer day in the 1970’s.
In 2009, I now had to remember the timing of when to shift to one of my oodles of gears. I required specially padded lycra booty shorts, a neon vest, two water bottle cages (with a protein/energy additive), fingerless bike gloves, nylon jersey, a clipless pedal system, and Italian hardware…OK…don’t get me wrong, safety items, such as a helmet and plain old water are critical, but all that other stuff? I don’t think so.
Shortly after getting clear about my real passion around bicycling, I decided to strip down my classic Bridgestone frame to just one gear, knocking off about 10 pounds worth of chain rings, derailleurs, shifters, and fancy pedals in the process. I also made my bike look sexy-hip with a new, bright white seat and chain — because as much as I love the sport of bike riding, sometimes I want to look cute while doing it too — so to that end, I also vowed to wear regular clothing on short bike rides to school and save the performance gear for less frequent extended rides.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have another fancy bike, loaded to the gills with tricks for the rides that require it. But for the moment, I’ll refrain from putting “twenty on ten” and instead reconnect with the little girl who simply loved to ride her bike in the sunshine with friends.

The Outdoor Date

One of my single friends, bored by the movie/dinner/drinks hustle, wondered how dating and the great outdoors might go together. Based on some observations and experiences from when I was both dating and married, ideas came easy. So here are just a few outdoorsy thoughts for a date or if you are single and looking to mingle!
Climbing Gym
People who go to climbing gyms also tend to get out on real rocks too. Alternately, it’s great for people who want to try rock climbing without as many risks. And there is something pretty sexy about showing off your muscular prowess to a suitor. Coupled with lunch, it’s an excellent daytime date!
I know this seems SO obvious, but people don’t go as often as they should. If you’re not the cooking type, just head to a local deli, grab sandwiches, sides, drinks; bring along a blanket for sitting — there is just nothing like enjoying a meal with someone you care about outdoors in beautiful surroundings. Alternately, you can go solo and savor some quiet time alone. Don’t forget to take your trash with you!
Walk or Hike
I suggest heading to a local public garden. The Botanic Garden in Berkeley’s Tilden Park is an outdoor museum that represents California’s diverse landscape. Temperatures can be very cool to very warm as you move along the trails and changing foliage. And there are also a few scenic places to stop and enjoy a bite to eat.
Bike Ride
Even if you don’t own a bike, rentals are a cool option available at local bike stores or companies like this one in San Francisco. If possible, pick a flat paved trail off the road for a leisurely ride and easy conversation. Helmets required!
I’d love to revisit this topic in the future with other suggestions, so please leave a comment to share your outdoor adventures spent with (or looking for) a loved one!