Celebrating National Bike Month with Help from Cotopaxi, Gear for Good
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After reading our post about the natural reforestation in Bastrop, Texas the good folks at Cotopaxi suggested I write about some of my favorite health tips for living a healthy active lifestyle. Here's a brief email quote from their response to that post.
"I spent some time checking out your site, and what sold me was your post from your Texas/Mountain Bike Tour. From the photographs you posted, I would have never known that those trails were in areas previously affected by forest fires, but only from reading your words. Looking at them again, I can see the growth, and I'm that much more amazed by nature simply because it shows how quickly the world can 'bounce back' when it comes to natural reforesting. It must have been a wonderful experience!"
I wanted to include that quote as I appreciate any and all positive feedback pertaining to my work. That's a good healthy lifestyle tip: "Take complements personally as they are meant to be". : )
Cotopaxi, a "Benefits Corporation" (not the volcano) and their accompanying slogan "gear for good" donate a percentage of every sale of their backpacks to various organizations that support global health initiatives. Use any of the links provided as underlined bold text for more information or to purchase one of their nicely crafted backpack designs. We like the Luzon for hiking and biking as it's sleek design for hydration is very practical.
Cotopaxi shared their graphic at left that they had put together to promote and participate in World Health Day. Referring to the graphic of Body, Mind and Energy where the folks at Cotopaxi have listed hiking, meditation or yoga and balanced diet, respectively I am using the graphic as my template since they requested that I include that in this post.
Obviously for body, I suggest riding a bike as more preferable than hiking after all this is a bike blog and it’s National Bike Month. That having been said the first thing to understand is I am not a cyclist in regards to riding a bike. There are a few good reasons for my being able to make that statement first of which is that life itself is cyclical. Understanding the truth in that would imply that each and every human being on the planet is a cyclist in some form or another. Where more thoughts on that subject might take a person I will leave to the existentialists and continue to ride my bike, next! The term cyclist conjures images of superficial spandex clad extremism pushing lactate thresholds, hunched over and miserably pushing through a painful workout. For National Bike Month one of my favorite quotes is “there are far more people using bikes now than fit into the types we associate with bike culture”. Ironically enough that quote is from The Invisible Cyclist blog. Therefore I will say it again I am not a cyclist, I am a person who rides different bikes for different reasons most of which are mainly economically practical, fun and include several health benefits as an added bonus. As National Bike Month is more about bike commuting and the many societal benefits of implementing bicycles as a valid form of transportation this first portion is meant to motivate or inspire newbies to bike commuting to ignore the nonsense which might be inhibiting or blocking you from riding your bike to work and pay attention to practical safe riding practices for bike commuting which can be found at People for Bikes or visit our Resources Page.
Following along with the Cotopaxi graphic is mind with meditation or yoga as suggested means of developing and maintaining a healthy connection between mind and body. Excellent very good stuff for folks of all ages or physical ability. Since this is a bike blog and and it’s National Bike Month I want to take this opportunity to mention the importance of stretching as a very important and infrequently mentioned for riding a bike. A chiropractor once commented to me that all my problems were pelvic. I have had to contend with sciatic nerve pain at different times in varying degrees of pain ever since a car collision during the late nineties. I was told by physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors and even a palm reader that I would no longer be able to depend on my body for my livelihood as most all my work was very physically demanding. All these years later and they were wrong. Since that time I built an off grid cabin in Colorado, cut and split firewood, rode my bike back and forth to work everyday climbing steep dirt roads, ice and snow covered roads and hauled my supplies such as drinking water and food. Here’s another good quote “do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do”. Oprah Winfrey. What does that have to do with mind you might ask. There was a time that I took up intense meditation practice mostly to improve my self trust. I had read an article about a fella who lead fairly rigorous two week bike tours all over the world. He commented that his ten day meditation course he attended was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life. So I signed up and attended the same course. Yes, it was very difficult and at times the pain experienced while holding to a meditation posture had me wishing one thing. That I would have done more stretching prior to the course. I have found that mindful stretching is an excellent method of tuning into and listening to one’s body. Where the aches, pains and tightness need more tender loving care through stretching makes riding your bike that much more pleasurable. This is a good reminder for me as it wasn’t all that long ago I could bend over wrap my arms around the back of my legs and touch my head to my knees. When I am that loose and limber not only do I get relief from sciatic pain but I can ride further, faster and harder without risk of injury and if I want to meditate I can sit longer without leg numbness. To summarize, for National Bike Month bike commuting tips for a healthy active lifestyle, stretch it out. Here’s a link to an excellent blog post with access to free ebook.
Next is a balanced diet and if anything is naturally balanced by design it’s a bike. Since it’s National Bike Month and this is a bike blog and fuel for a bike is food then depending on how much or what type of riding you do eat whatever you feel like eating. After watching the film Inspired to Ride which documented the Trans America Bike Race those extremely driven bike folks wanted to eat everything in sight by the end of pedaling over three thousand miles in three weeks or less. Yeah, wow is right but it didn’t seem as though any of them were eating a balanced diet, particularly not the guy who was on a strict liquid diet as he felt it would give him an edge in the race. It didn’t. Point being for us bike folks who need fuel to burn to ride our bikes a good approach to diet is “everything in moderation including moderation”. I have learned the benefit of eating whole, organic or local foods as opposed to processed high sugar empty energy diets that are not efficient enough for continued pedaling whether it be bike commuting or bicycle touring. There are and have been so many fantastically promising diet fads that many smack of a lack of common sense. One of the most absurd was to rid fruit from your diet, duh, huh, what? Yeah, enough said about that diet trend. Lisa Piper of Natural Living Organic Country Store is an excellent authority on food. As a Certified Organic Raw Food Chef she has studied and researched many aspects of proper nutrition. Here is what I have learned from her:
There is no one diet for everybody. Some folks are diabetic, some are hypoglycemic, some folks have food allergies, some folks don’t. Then there’s metabolic rate where one person can burn through a large pizza while watching a movie and not gain a single ounce of fat whereas another person might gain ten pounds in a couple of weeks just looking at ice cream. I like it fits with my previous statement regarding the variety of folks using their bikes these days, celebrate diversity, especially with food that’s what makes eating fun. So, what’s a balanced diet? One that serves your individual nutrition needs is what Lisa would say and that’s absolutely true and one of the many reasons she owns and operates an Organic Food, Produce and Herb Store partnered with an organic Juice Bar. Visit their site for more information.
My favorite page of dietary information for folks who ride a lot whether it bike commuting or touring is at Bicycle Touring Tales where they outline what foods provide what type of energy, what time to eat particular foods to get the most energy for your ride and so forth.
Anyhow, I just want to close with a thank you to Cotopaxi for recognizing this blog and site's efforts which go toward supporting our local organic farmers, gardeners, Natural Living Country Store and Juice Bar. As a Benefits Corporation Cotopaxi is an excellent company to buy products from in support of better health and communities near and far. Thanks for the invite Cotopaxi!