By Jae Lin
This past March, I rode in the Hill Country Ride for AIDS (HCRA) for the first time, and it was so full of unexpected joys, lessons, and challenges. Preparing for the ride, waiting for the day with great anticipation, and spending all day in the beautiful spring weather on the day of the ride—it all came with so many emotions. Since May is National Bike Month, I want to share some of the thoughts and reflections that have been living in my head since the HCRA.
So the one thing that I grossly underestimated about the ride were the hills. They are everything, and they’re such a make-or-break factor. I remember the moment I realized, around 8 miles in, that, since I was on a round trip route, every hill I cruised down would be a hill I needed to climb up on the way back. Wind in my face, I think my heart flew out of my chest for a second or two. But, by the time I was at the bottom of the hill, I had collected myself again and began to realize, also, that every hill I was climbing up, I would get to ride down on the way back as well.
I laughed aloud at this, feeling like I was melodramatically growing as a person, with all these cheesy lessons about appreciating the struggles with the belief that there it will pay off in the future. Suddenly, I was so grateful for every incline and hopeful for the return road.
Cycling as Self Care
With the weather as ideal as it was on that March day and surroundings around Krause Springs as beautiful as they are, it was hard not to feel like the bike ride was both healing and uplifting. There are some specific reasons that I find bike riding to be uniquely wonderful, whether as a sport, a form of transportation, or a pastime. Here are just a few that are on my mind since the HCRA:
- Bikes come in so many different shapes and sizes! They have the potential to accommodate so many different kinds of bodies and abilities.
- Cycling really engages all the major muscle groups in your body, as evidenced by the full-body soreness I felt on the day after.
- It is a relatively low-impact activity
- You can choose your own pace. I took a pretty leisurely speed, but some other folks took the ride with varying levels of intensity, which looked exciting.
- Zooming down hills and turning wily corners brings such a sense of adventure.
- Regular cycling can increase cardiovascular fitness and improve your body’s strength and flexibility.
- Cycling can also be such a good stress-reliever and produce the endorphins needed to lower symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Community Comfort & Confidence
There were definitely some parts of the ride that were unpleasant. Early mornings aren’t my thing. Staying hydrated is a chore. All the parts of my body were competing for my focus with each new ailment hurting more than the last. But at every point, friends, family, and community were there to push me forward and pull me home. And, as always, that makes all the difference.
Speaking of community, allgo will be organizing a community bike event in October of 2018. Make sure you are following us on social media and/or our mailing list so you don’t miss an update. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.