Cycling as medicine

I was riding with Zach up Gutierrez Canyon and he said, “If cycling was a pill, everybody would be taking it.”  That’s a neat saying, but after pondering it for a while, I thought cycling is way more fun than taking a pill or vitamin. The benefits of cycling are proven medically effective, and the evidence keeps mounting.

The Specialized Foundation uses cycling as a tool for children to achieve academic, health and social success through their Riding for Focus program.  The Foundation partners with Stanford University to better understand the effects of cycling on the learning process in children.  It’s pretty incredible to see the positive results of cycling becoming more visible.

Play is a huge part of learning!  Cycling play promotes mental health and overall wellbeing.  As a team sport, it builds social connections and a sense of belonging.  When we do high intensity intervals on the bike, the mind focuses on exercise and nothing else.  The goal-oriented part of the brain gets more oxygen causing a focus-shift away from the other parts that might be stressed.  This exercise-focused goal-orientation leads to mental relaxation.  The following study by Global Cycling Network goes into the details more.  Basically the same kind of exercise doctors prescribe for heart patients is also good for our heads, and more.

The bottom line is the value produced by cycling is so positively impactful, we’ll have to create a new economic model to measure it.  The rewards to the individual and society are only just beginning to be understood.  The bicycle is releasing so much human potential!  Kudos to everyone making an effort to harness it more, including the people riding bicycles.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” –H.G. Wells

Further reading:
Kids are getting on bikes sooner and having more fun: https://bikeinitiative.org/2017/08/25/cycling-for-kids-strider-bikes-and-specialized-foundation/
Cycling as a national investment: https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/the-bicycle-is-americas-vehicle/
The Specialized Foundation: https://www.specializedfoundation.org

Cycling connects us with nature, too, which is good medicine

Bike-In Coffee hosts Semper Porro cycling team

Our motto at Old Town Farm is pedalers welcome.  We would like for that to be the motto of every city in America.  –Lanny and Linda, owners of Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm

On Saturday, April 27, two great things come together.  One of the top bicycle racing teams in America in 2019, Semper Porro, will be at Albuquerque’s Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm to connect with the broader community from 10am-12noon.  Join in the celebration of cycling fun!  Semper Porro will discuss how their mission of athlete development translates into helping people reach their fullest capabilities in life through healthy living, process excellence and community building.

Semper Porro Elite Road Bicycle Racing Team

When: Saturday, April 27, 2019 10am-12noon
Where: Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm ( http://oldtownfarm.com/bike-in-coffee/ )
What: Community gathering with cycling demonstrations, w/ optional ride at 12noon

More About Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm:  Bike In Coffee caters to cyclists, serving food and coffee from 9am-2pm every Saturday and Sunday on their glorious farm in the heart of Albuquerque with easy access off the Bosque Multi-Use Path.  The property has been farmed for at least 500 years, and the current owners have adapted it from a horse farm 35 years ago to the changing urban context, so people can connect with nature and one another through relaxation and sharing food and cycling culture, and enjoying everything that’s beautiful about Albuquerque, NM.

More About Semper Porro:  An elite road bicycle racing team with roots in the Southwest U.S., Semper Porro is Latin for “always forward”.  The Semper Porro team is in Albuquerque training for the Tour of the Gila bicycle race in Silver City, NM May 1-5. They’ve had an amazing season thus far, including winning the Redlands Classic while competing with many of America’s top cycling athletes. Semper Porro’s mission connects cycle sport to the highest ideals and values in life and uses processes that are universally applicable to building successful careers, relationships, reaching life goals and helping individuals and communities flourish.

References and further reading / viewing:

Hear Old Town Farm’s vision for New Mexico and Albuquerque as America’s leader in cycling:

Watch Semper Porro at Redlands:

The Tour of the Gila draws professional and amateur teams from across America to New Mexico for the some of the finest bicycling roads in the world with clear air, high altitude, and spectacular landscapes, great food and culture and an awe-inspiring atmosphere.  Cycling in New Mexico has deep roots and is an integral part of our communities.
https://tourofthegila.com

Semper Porro media:
https://www.facebook.com/semperporrotraining
https://www.instagram.com/semper.porro/
https://semperporro.com

Bike-IN landscapes: Bikepacking NM and the wild US

“Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Unique in the New Mexico 2019 legislative session is House Memorial 10, which recognizes the contributions of bikepacking for outdoor recreation.  Bikepacking is a combination of camping and cycling, akin to backpacking, but gear is mounted on one’s bicycle instead of carried on one’s back! Outside Magazine covers the genesis of this grassroots, community-driven movement in New Mexico, which was born out of residents’ interest of getting to know this place better, and enjoying the abundant natural assets of quiet, dark night skies, and wonderful landscapes.  Bikepacking creates unlimited, sustainable travel opportunities while supporting local communities and small scale enterprises, and keeping nature intact.  It encourages us to slow down and take in the treasures of the places we inhabit, all while improving mental and physical health and well-being.

photos from day rides. With bikepacking those envoys of beauty, the stars, string our days together

Bikepacking speaks to the most important issues of our times.  You don’t need expensive equipment to enjoy it, so it’s affordable and accessible.  Think of the health boom bikepacking creates!  A health boom could expand indefinitely and include all people, residents and visitors, natives and newcomers.  A health boom has no down side. Bikepacking preserves natural habitats and biodiversity, and utilizes the existing network of trails, dirt roads and paved connecting roads from population centers.  Through bikepacking adventure, we learn to take better care and pay attention to all we have, including our subsistence infrastructure.

Bikepacking contributes to health, economy, and communities all in one activity, and seems to honor the essence of things.  It contributes to the upbuildling of human lives and community and the conservation of nature for future generations, while increasing the capacity today for appreciating the life we are living.  Bikepacking is not an extractive activity, rather it is regenerative.  We can also train for it right here in the villages, towns, cities and countryside where we reside.  Cycling has many practical uses, and is beautiful poetry, too.

Bikepacking brings people IN to the landscapes we call home and we see the world with new eyes from a bicycle.  We sharpen our ingenuity and hone our skills.  We learn to sense better when a rain storm is coming, to know when to pitch camp for the evening.  Truths flow out of the recesses of our consciousness in the backcountry, and we realize there is a tranquil sense of unity throughout nature, one that flows in us and through us and that we are a part of.  We meet people while bikepacking and build up the fabric of engaged, supportive community.  Biking in nature helps us appreciate things and know ourselves.

“The charming landscape which I saw this morning is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms.  Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape.  There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.  This is the best part of these men’s farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title.”  RW Emerson, Nature

 

References and Resources:
House Memorial 10 recognizing the importance of bikepacking in New Mexico
https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/memorials/house/HM010.pdf

Outside Magazine “New Mexico Wants to Make Bikepacking Mainstream”
https://www.outsideonline.com/2391248/legislators-trying-make-bikepacking-go-big

I’ve written about my cycling day trips.  I would like to try overnight trips by bikepacking.
https://bikeinitiative.org/2016/12/18/cycling-from-home/

A couple Team CSP-SBI New Mexico cycling ambassadors took a wild ride just yesterday
https://www.strava.com/activities/2205526850 “Cabezon loop extended aka luxury gravel”
https://www.strava.com/activities/2205408125 “Exploring that other side”

I could see some write-ups on bikepacking here, in the ‘slow travel’ section
https://www.theworldinstituteofslowness.com “the fastest way to a good life is to slow down”

Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassador clothing available online

Team CSP-SBI clothing is available online through March 6, 2019.  Items are priced at a 30% discount thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and partners.  We promote conservation, health and wellness, and quality of life in our communities by celebrating life through cycling and encouraging more people to enjoy the ride. People on other teams and from all across the community are welcome to join our inclusive network of ambassadors. Cycling creates an amazing life and builds healthy, connected, sustainable communities!

Online store [was open] through March 6: https://custom.zootsports.com/CSP2019
Latest shipping update (posted April 23): Clothing arrives at your shipping address April 29 or 30
Sizing chart: https://squadra.com/pages/sizing-charts
Fitting samples are available at the Trek Bicycle Superstore if you would like to try them for sizing.
Supporting SBI: Clothing sales cover costs only.  To financially support SBI’s work donate here

More on Team CSP-SBI apparel:  Mens and womens jerseys, shorts, vests and arm warmers are made by Squadra (“Team” in Italian) with the highest quality materials.  The form fit allows freedom of movement and won’t catch or snag on anything.  Air flows smoothly over the fabrics, increasing your overall efficiency.  Team CSP-SBI apparel is well-suited to make your commute safer and more comfortable, and equally at home on a weekend fun ride.  The fabric is soft to the touch, breathable, protective and durable.  The shorts have padding and make every seat first class.  Lycra supports your muscles and extends endurance.  If you’re new to technical cycling apparel, consider ordering a vest, a versatile item that can go over any type of clothing.  Jerseys and vests have rear pockets to conveniently carry food and goods.  Every aspect of Team CSP-SBI apparel by Squadra is designed to make you cycling experience smoother and more fun.

More on Team CSP-SBI:  In our fourth year, Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassadors brings the community together and creates a friendly cycling atmosphere.  We are a distributed network with representatives across the U.S. and around the world.  Ambassadors practice all kinds of cycling, from commuting to road to mountain biking, and are passionate about exploring the outdoors together.  Cycling is practical and affordable transportation that takes us where we want to go.  We cycle for enjoyment, to pursue our goals and dreams, and to bring about the changes we want to see in the world. Team CSP-SBI connects people to the cycling action and facilitates learning in a fun, inclusive and welcoming family-oriented environment.  Our logo are the American pronghorn, native to North America and the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere.

About CSP and SBI: Team CSP-SBI is co-organized by two nonprofits, Conservation Science Partners and Southwest Bike Initiative.  CSP applies human ingenuity to the preservation of species, populations, and ecosystems using scientific principles, innovative approaches, and lasting partnerships with conservation practitioners. https://www.csp-inc.org
SBI provides sustainable transportation planning, design, and educational services to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for the traveling public.  We foster travel choices that provide opportunities for physical activity, contact with nature, and positive social engagements, while promoting economic development, environmental sustainability, health and wellness, and elevating the quality of life in our communities. https://bikeinitiative.org

Information on clothing costs and donations: The prices in the store cover the cost of clothing only. If you would like to donate to SBI, please do so here. Our work is made possible through contributions of generous people like you.  https://bikeinitiative.org/make-a-donation/
For assistance or with any questions, please contact Mark Aasmundstad, the director and founder of Southwest Bike Initiative.  bikeyogi (@) gmail.com or 505-985-1169 (phone)
Thank you!

New Mexico a leader in great outdoors

If passed by legislators, the Outdoor Equity Fund would also be created–the only fund of its kind in the nation that would be designed to spur the development of New Mexico’s next generation of conservationists. –Angelica Rubio and Stephanie Garcia Richard, on the proposed Office of Outdoor Recreation, in “Op-Ed: Access to the Outdoors is a Basic Human Right

A group ride on the Paseo de la Mesa trail on Albuquerque’s West Side (author’s photo)

It’s been a busy year in New Mexico watching our newly elected officials take office.  Representative Angelica Rubio rode her bicycle 300 miles from Las Cruces to Santa Fe to kick off the legislative session!  The Legislature and Governor have been working in concert to introduce and discuss landmark legislation, including Senate Bill 462 to create the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division in the Economic Development Department.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham with New Mexico Zia symbol on jersey (from Governor’s facebook)

In addition to the proposed Outdoor Recreation office, there have been a series of bills and memorials designed to leverage our State’s bountiful natural beauty and resources.  House Memorial 10 recognizes the “importance of bikepacking to cultural resources, physical activities, conservation, and tourism”, while pointing out the importance of road and trail connectivity.  House Bill 192 creates a uniform rule for safe passing of bicyclists, while also protecting motorists by including guidelines for not passing slower traffic when there is oncoming traffic in the adjacent lane.  This is good for everyone, as it is widely acknowledged in the transportation profession that interventions protecting “the most vulnerable road users will benefit all road users” (National Transportation Safety Board SS1701, Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes).

Puerticito road off the Turquoise Trail, NM 14 (author’s photo)

There’s more good news!  New Mexico recently published its first Statewide Bicycle Plan, and House Bill 192 will boost its implementation process.  The NM Bike Plan “includes the goal of making bicycling a more comfortable and attractive mode of transportation”.  Creating educational campaigns with instructions for safe passing is an important part of the “implementation of driver education strategies as a means to improve bicyclists safety” (from NMDOT – Traffic Safety Divison, NMBOT Bill Analsyis, HB 192).  There are many organizations in New Mexico already teaching transportation safety.  By joining our efforts together and with a concerted focus on promoting access to our natural environment, things are looking up for using the simple bicycle as an accessible, economical, and super fun way of getting people outdoors!

A mural in Albuquerque, NM with my bike (author’s photo)

This is a good video by Austin’s PD with instructions on safe passing.  In New Mexico, the required minimum passing distance will be 5 feet, up from Austin’s 3 feet, providing even more protection

References and Resources:
The lead quote is from this article in Outside Online, a magazine based in Santa Fe
https://www.outsideonline.com/2389421/new-mexico-outdoor-equity-fund-op-ed-rubio-richard

Outdoor culture is good for our spirits, and putting our economies in synch with quality of life initiatives
https://headwaterseconomics.org/economic-development/trends-performance/recreation-counties-attract/

The National Park has a guidebook to develop bicycle and pedestrian access.  Webinars are available
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/transportation/bikeped.htm includes NPS Active Transportation Guidebook

Albuquerque Journal published a story on the Outdoor Recreation office proposal
https://www.abqjournal.com/1277104/governor-lawmakers-propose-new-office-to-promote-outdoors.html

This study by the National Transportation Safety Board is a pivotal reference for traffic safety for all https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Pages/SS1701.aspx

Albuquerque itself is a city with one of the best open space systems in the nation
https://www.kunm.org/post/using-historical-photos-explore-albuquerques-future

2018 NM Bike Plan http://dot.state.nm.us/content/dam/nmdot/BPE/NM_Bike_Plan.pdf

Bicycles at the Super Bowl

“With our goal being to get to a person as quickly as possible, these bikes are essential”.  –Atlanta’s Mobile Medic Response Team

“I’m not going to say I mastered it, but I did conquer it!” –ATL’s Mobile Medic Response Team

References:
Thanks to my fellow LCI’s in Bike Club for sharing this video.  Bike Club’s focus is building confident cyclists and great Tulsans through community engagement
http://www.bikeclubtulsa.com

Wheels of life

Skill, in the best sense, is the enactment or the acknowledgement or signature of responsibility to other lives; it is the practical understanding of value.  –Wendell Berry, “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture”

Cycling up the Sandia Crest in Fall 2018 above Albuquerque

Eating and moving our bodies are everyday acts that connect us to the source of life.   In Wendell Berry’s book “Culture and Agriculture” the author discusses the relationships between technology, responsibility and skill.  I am impressed with the parallel’s between Berry’s observations on agriculture and the dynamics of human movement, or transportation.

In the sixth chapter, the use of energy, Berry notices that introducing machines in agriculture complicates our relationship with the life-giving soil.  In particular machines bring more power and consequence, but do not impose restraints or moral limits on the exercise of their power.  So humans have to bring responsibility commensurate with these mechanical powers that increase our impact and consequences on the soil. To complicate things, machines speed up our work, “but as speed increases, care declines…We know that there is a limit to the capacity of attention and that the faster we go the less we see” (Berry p. 93).  So being responsible for our machine-aided work becomes even harder, and necessitates greater foresight and moral restraint on the part of human beings.

Cranes flying in at Bosque del Apache, November 2018

Skill is the connection between life and tools, or life and machines.  —Berry, p. 91

Driving skills are based on our knowledge of the machines we are operating, the driving environment and conditions, and the potential consequences on our own life and the life surrounding us.  When I went to commercial driving school at age 21 to learn how to drive 18-wheelers, I had an instructor named Jim.  He made a moral argument.  Jim had driven trucks over a million miles, and he’d seen a lot.  Jim said that as truck drivers, we are the most powerful on the road and therefore must be the most responsible.  He had a certain authority based on care and experience that stuck with me.  Five days a week for three months, Jim and a team of instructors trained me and my classmates on the skills we needed to be the most responsible users of public roads.  We learned how to manage our speed and adjust it so it was appropriate for conditions.  We inspected our vehicles before every trip to ensure proper maintenance, and practiced turning, backing up, and negotiating in traffic to protect all human life around us.  The skills we developed had nothing to do with always going slow, rather knowing when to go slow for safety, and how to modulate our speed, which effectively makes the whole transportation system work so much better, and enacts our fundamental values  of safety first.  Driver training for me was not only about mastering and controlling my vehicle, but also about mastering myself.

In the traffic safety field, there is an overwhelming body of evidence that suggests we need to increase driving skills to have a safer transportation world.  The National Transportation Safety Board noted in a recent report that although “Speeding—exceeding a speed limit or driving too fast for conditions—is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle crashes in the United States”, there is no national program to communicate the dangers of speeding like there is for other crash factors such as drinking and driving (NTSB SS1701).  All drivers need training to understand and follow the basic speed law, which “requires drivers to operate at a speed that is reasonable and prudent, taking into account weather, road conditions, traffic, visibility, and other environmental conditions” (NTSB SS1701).  We can do a better job of providing specific education and guidance on how to anticipate and take into account the dynamic conditions of the road, the most important being the presence of people.

A group ride in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico

A complimentary action we can take is encouraging citizens to engage in activities such as bicycling and walking.  Bicycling in particular is a kind of technology that deepens and enhances our engagement with our local communities and the greater world.  It is what Scott Slovic calls a “technology of contact”, one that enables us to “connect with the world and think more deeply about our relationship to the world” (p. 358 Literature).  I think in part cycling works so well to engage our senses because we are supplying our own biological energy.  Going so far on our own energy is one of the magical things about cycling, and makes it such a rewarding technology to use, not to mention, cycling is almost completely renewable.  Cycling reminds me of organic farming.  It allows biological energy to flow at a sustainable scale and it gives us exactly what we need to be well and productive.  It’s about quality more than quantity.  Cycling does justice to what it means to be human pursuing happiness.

In this age of technology, it is not a question of always abstaining, but a question of wise and respectful use.  It is a matter of education, public training, and living within our biological limits.  To me, this is a beautiful challenge, or what Rachel Carlson called “a shining opportunity”.  Carlson wrote: “Your generation must come to terms with the environment.  Your generation must face realities instead of taking refuge in ignorance and evasion of truth.  Yours is a grave and a sobering responsibility, but it is also a shining opportunity.  You go out into a world where mankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery–not of nature, but of itself.  Therin lies our hope and our destiny.  ‘In today already walks tomorrow'”.

A Fall walk in the Manzano Mountains

Resources:

Wendell Berry wrote “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture” in 1977 and still enacts his values on his small Kentucky farm

Scott Slovic’s Literature chapter appears in the “Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology

NTSB SS1701 is a landmark safety study.  Produced by the National Transportation Safety Board, the working title is “Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles

The Rachel Carlson quote is from her 1962 address to Scripps Institute.  She was influenced by Albert Schweitzer’s “reverence for life” philosophy.  The address is called “On Man and the Stream of Time” and appears in the book “Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture”.