A body sure does feel free and easy on a bicycle. It’s one of those activities that fills all of the senses at once with the fresh scents of cut hay, the sounds of birds and the great scenery that the country roads of the Kawarthas have to offer. While I ride my thoughts drift back to the advice my dad gave me when he put me on my first bike. “Mind you keep your balance eh”. He was a man of few words. I guess what I like the most about cycling is that it makes me feel like a kid all over again.

When I was growing up on Manitoulin Island, all of us rode our bikes down to the lake every afternoon of the summer. Morning was for chores, but, although some of us arrived later than others, afternoon was for swimming and sunning and swinging on the rope. The bike meant freedom to a kid. It stretched “going out to play” from blocks to miles and it was wonderful.

As I grew older and became more responsible, going to university, getting a job, a car and a home, the bike lost its appeal. In fact, it was only when my children became old enough to want bicycles that I started riding again with them, and it was wonderful all over again. We went on bike hikes and family camping trips, always stretching the horizon until biking just became a way of life.

Now, as I grow older, not old mind you, with my kids grown up and gone from home, I find myself cycling every chance I get instead of driving. With a basket on the back I can do shopping and deliveries just as easily as I could in the truck. But now I have a new piece of advice that I added to my children when they started riding. “Always wear a helmet”.

Twice now I have been thrown off my bike. Twice I have fractured and replaced my helmet. But I have yet to get a scratch or even a headache thanks to those brave selfless helmets. In fact, I think a helmet is at least as important to a biker as a seatbelt is to a driver. Besides if you get one that matches your bike it makes you feel like Lance Armstrong. What’s more, great looking helmets can be bought at local bicycle stores. I got mine at Down to Earth Outfitters in Lindsay.

Doing all of my errands on a bicycle I saved enough money from not driving the truck to pay for the bike in one year. I also cut half a tonne of greenhouse gasses that the truck would have spewed into the air. Even more than that, I don’t know the energy and waste costs involved in making a new truck and scrapping an old one. Every kilometer that I ride adds life to my truck. Like the wonderful one horse shay it too may live ninety nine years to the day. In which case it can, along with my bicycle, go in my will.

So, if you are in the mood to save a lot of money or to protect the environment or to get lots of enjoyable exercise, then a bicycle may be for you. Be careful, though, it really does fill all of your senses, and it really does make you feel like a kid again. Most of all, if you aren’t careful, it can turn into a way of life. But if you do decide to get out that old bicycle or invest in a new one, take my advice, “wear a helmet and mind you keep your balance eh”. See you next time.

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