Riding Into Lent

Lego Ash WednesdayRiding my bike daily is one of the practices I have decided to take up for Lent. While we often think of Lent being a time when we give up something or when we take up a ‘spiritual practice’, something like prayer or alms giving, Lent can also be a time of reflection, repentance, and change. I need to turn from my unhealthy practices I have fallen into and take up healthy practices – my bike is quite literally a vehicle of change.

view from my bike

My goal is to ride 40 minutes each day for the 40 days of Lent. There is no speed goal. No distance goal. Only time and movement. The first day I fell short by 9 minutes. On day 2 Jenn rode with me and as I came to the point when my driveway was – RIGHT THERE – Jenn said, “Want to ride to the end of the street and back?” My head screamed NO! My legs concurred. But my mouth said “Sure”, because I didn’t want to appear weak and we rode a loop that gave us the extra 5 minutes we lacked to have gone the entire 40 minutes.

As we were out for our ride, we came to a place where the road is dirt (sand actually), that gives way to broken pavement and loose gravel. To make this all the more treacherous it’s a decent downward incline (I live in Southeastern NC, most everything is pretty flat) with a giant mud puddle at the end. As I was riding I was constantly looking ahead, choosing my path though the danger that created the possibilities for a crash. My safest way was very clear. I began to think about how easy it was for me to see the safest path and direct my bike tires to follow. Which reminded me of a scripture I loved as a teen Proverbs 3:5-6 (CEB)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight.

It was easy for me to trust my own judgment in choosing the path for my bike tires to follow yesterday. I was confident and self-assured that I would not fall and I would safely stay on my bike. But seeing life’s path is not as confident a place for me. Seeing God’s path for me isn’t always clear but  staying on God’s path is even harder. I don’t think I am alone in this struggle.

So, in this season of Lent, while riding my bike, I’ll be meditating on God’s path (while watching for cars and loose impediments); and engaging with those who can help me discern my path and spur me on.

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To cycle or not to cycle

I really like to ride my bike. I always have, as a child I would pedal

My bike

away the summer days. In my adult years, I have been a yo-yo rider. I tend to be a yo-yo everything, when it comes to health.

I read this article today, and realized I just need to get on my bike more. My city, although not large, is not particularly bike friendly. However, as the article points out, the health benefit exceed the accident risks.

Cycling in the city: Health benefits outweigh accident risks
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

The health benefits of cycling in an urban environment outweigh risks posed by air pollution and accidents, a new study has concluded.
Researchers analyzed data from international studies on the benefits of exercise and the threats posed by vehicle exhaust and traffic hazards. They then estimated what the health impact would be if 500,000 Dutch adults switched from driving to cycling for one round trip of roughly five to nine miles a day.

The study found that cycling even for a short period of time in traffic can lead to significant exposure to components of car exhaust, such as tiny particles and soot, that may contribute to respiratory and heart problems. Because cyclists tend to breathe about twice as deeply as car drivers, they inhale larger amounts of air pollutants.

The researchers also calculated the risk of dying in a traffic accident as about four times greater per half-mile traveled for cyclists than for car drivers.

But they determined that the health benefits for cyclists in The Netherlands were at least nine times greater than the hazards. By switching from driving to cycling, people would, on average, live three to 14 months longer because of increased physical activity. The risks they would face would be potentially losing 0.8 to 40 days of life because of increased exposure to air pollution and an average of five to nine days from a fatal traffic accident.

The findings were reported online June 30 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Switching to cycling was also found to benefit public health because it would eliminate 500,000 car trips a day, leading to a reduction in air pollution, the researchers noted in a news release from the publisher.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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