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.

How did an Oakland girl like me come to love getting her camp on anyway? Pt. 3

After getting married and starting a family of my own, camping took on a new meaning. For just a short drive and little money, I found camping was one of the most economical ways my new family could take a vacation. During these years I collected essential camping gear, like our first family-sized tent and propane stove from local garage sales and eBay — my family still uses these items today.
But as my family grew, so did the effort of camping. Thus the city of Oakland’s Feather River family camp, situated about two- hundred miles north, became a very attractive option for us. For about $75 per day back then, our family could camp at their beautiful developed site where: three delicious meals a day were prepared (and announced with the toll of a bell), a kind nurse dispensed an endless supply of band-aids, platform tents and cots were already set up, and a refreshingly cool swimming hole was observed by attentive lifeguards. Another bonus of family camp, were the many fun, organized activities and special relationships we developed with the other Oakland families we joined each summer.
Now my children (ages 12, 7, and 6) love the outdoors and every February they begin humming camp songs around the house and double check with me to make sure we are registered for the upcoming summer season!
Aside from our annual Family Camp, we also venture out on local hikes or family bike rides at least monthly. My eldest son is a Boy Scout and he is now developing outdoor skills and going on camping trips with his peers just as I did at his age. I recognize that the fun my kids have now in the natural world is the foundation for a love and engagement with nature that lasts a lifetime and is likely to be shared with their own children.
I still do enjoy tent camping sometimes, but I find that as I approach the big Four-O, I more frequently choose to balance comfort with my outdoor fun — nights of sleeping on just a tarp under the stars have passed me by. I now fantasize often about a future of creeping along the highways in a well-equipped RV, enjoying each state of the Americas, one campground at a time.
Catch-up!: Part 1, Part 2