I am by no means a healthy individual. Living in Davis, a town that has a billion sports going on and a Wal-mart-sized meathouse called the ARC, one can feel outclassed physically on the daily. That being said, I just pledged to do 300 miles for “May is Bike Month.” I know that number can sound daunting if you recently dusted off a bike at home or get a little asthmatic biking across campus, but it’s not that much. I have never before this month, committed to any form of rigorous exercise, and usually eat at least one meal a day made entirely from fructose corn syrup, carbonation and xantham gum. Yet bike commuting as my primary form of exercise works for me. The hour or so I am on my bike a day is my favorite time.
I’ve always despised running on a track and I hate non-team sports. I love competition and I hate purposeless movement. With bike commuting, I’ve found an opportunity to exercise in a very busy day dominated by work, non-profit meetings, school and the two to three hobbies I can barely maintain. Between the money I’m not spending on parking and the time spent outside battling my beer belly, life is good. I’m starting to get into skipping the bus, which has been getting packed ever since gas started climbing. When it’s six dollars this summer, I think we’ll start dealing with the unthinkable: bike-jams downtown!
I know you have questions. How long does it take you to bike from Davis to Sacramento? [one hour 15 minutes]. How far is it? [Title of this article]. How many times a day do I take this ride? [three to five afternoons/week]. I love easy questions. Truthfully, it’s not that far or ridiculous, and if my nearly-obese body mass index (28.2) can pull it off, I think 150 bike miles a month is a reasonable goal for everyone, not just the spandex wearing, captain of the high-school-team students of UC Davis. You should commit to some “May is Bike Month” action!
Athletic culture scares most normal, slightly pudgy students. I get your need to eat healthy, the strict diets of tuna and powdered protein and the daily reps and runs. Pro bicyclists have this world too, they continually get new bikes and new spandex and this stuff called bag-balm, which is as gross as it sounds, but the lack of these things shouldn’t hold you back from getting healthy. Weird plastic stuff is not needed if you want to exercise more. I bike everyday in my dress slacks and discount Etnies from high school. What you need to do is tell yourself you can make it.
Commuting is the best way, in my opinion, to force yourself to make it. There is the simple incentive of being late if you don’t. And while Sacramento may seem like a stretch right now for you budding cyclists, commuting to class in Davis is a simple start. If you do that already, biking to places on the weekend and biking to places that are far and away are the next steps. Go shopping at the other Nugget, or the other Safeway, or if you’re really into shopping at a big box, bike to Target or Costco in Woodland. It will make you appreciate how hard those Chinese workers slave away to get you things so cheaply. Once you do that, you should take weekend rides to Winters (Putah Creek Café) or to Sacramento (Second Saturday) and not feel guilty about pounding down an ice cream covered waffle in either place.
But wait, I’m not done. I still have some room to criticize you, you ARC drivers. What I don’t get is why there is a giant parking lot for you, (save for Sodexo employees and those desk-zombies over at student housing), and why people drive, park and then go to the ARC and come back to their car to make it smell like sweat stain. It’s a gym. It’s for people who run in circles and take bikes that don’t go anywhere. I don’t understand you! I’m not sure if there’s a group of people I dislike more, which is unfair.
I’m attacking you because you are an easy group to pick on. Truth be told, I should leave you ARC types alone. At least you do exercise. You find a way to exercise in a country that is designed for people to sit in small boxes all day long. That’s not something that is an 800-word topic, but perhaps more along the lines of a series of long books about the United Sprawl of America.
CHRISTOPHER SALAM is a minister at the Davis Bicycle Collective, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in DIY bicycle repair visit the DBC at its Bike Forth location, on L Street and 4th. M one to five p.m., Tuesday and Thursday four to eight p.m. and Saturday 12 to six p.m.