Get Out and Bike: A Social Distance Interview with a Long-Distance Biker
I recently had the joy of a socially-distanced interview with my friend Claudia, who is one of my role models because of her self-care regime. She watches her diet, exercises, does Transcendental Meditation, goes on long bike rides, and—these days—socially distances. I am particularly interested in how biking helps to sustain her well-being and defies the feeling of being shut indoors, apart from Nature.
JH: When did you start long distance biking?
CR: I first started biking seriously about 20 years ago but then took some years off and started up again just a couple of years ago. As soon as I started biking again, I remembered the joys of it.
JH: What kind of conditions do you usually prefer or need in order to get out there and ride?
CR: I live in Iowa, where weather changes around the four seasons. I like to ride in different weather conditions because I feel it strengthens me as a person and a cyclist. Of course, I don’t ride much in rain because it is hazardous, and the same goes for snow and icy conditions. There’s always a lot of wind in Iowa so if one waits for a calm day to ride you would never get out on your bike. It’s not uncommon for me to bike in 12+ mph winds, choosing head winds on the way out and with an easy tail wind on the way home. I also don’t mind riding in the cold (within reason), as I find it to be rather invigorating.
JH: Can you describe the feeling you have when it’s a good ride? is it like what people describe as being in “the zone?”
CR: All rides are good. Short, long, easy, difficult. There is definitely something to the Endorphin experience. There is a lot of bliss that comes from it, both mentally and physically.
JH: In what shape do bikers of your caliber need to be?
CR: I would consider my biking moderate. So, someone who can exercise for a few hours at a time without straining would be in good enough shape. Until the “new normal” of being more secluded and social distancing started, I mostly would road ride with other women in my age group, and we typically ride 20-40 miles when we go out. I sometimes still ride with them, but always at six to ten feet apart.
JH: You practice the Transcendental Meditation technique twice daily. There is a broad body of research showing TM has benefits such as increased energy and resilience as well as benefits to cardiovascular health. As a biker, does TM appear to increase your stamina and resilience?
CR: TM helps the body in many ways by alleviating stress so I guess that would count as increasing endurance and stamina. It also strengthens the mind and a lot of this type of activity takes a strong and determined mental state, so I would say TM helps with that for sure. And yes, having a deep restful meditation after a long ride is very helpful for reducing any fatigue that built up.
JH: These days, when people are needing to self-seclude, is biking a blessing?
CR: Definitely. I can get outside and get my exercise without worrying about being close to anyone. Governments of many countries are encouraging biking for exercise and to get people outside in a safe manner while the pollution levels are lower because of fewer emissions. In England, for example, so far bike shops are exempt from the store closure rules. These days, when I bike, I’m breathing fresher air, enjoying the climate of blossoming Springtime, and am rarely in close proximity to other bikers or joggers. I often ride my trail bike so that I can enjoy the town’s beautiful surrounding Loop Trail and take in all the natural beauty, animals, birds and the silence. I feel I have been blessed when I spot a bald eagle or an indigo bunting!
About the Author
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals in the USA.