A rather portly gentleman looked at my Brompton folding bike in the office the other day and commented, ‘it must be an adventure getting to work on that’.
I was momentarily taken aback. While I understand that bike riding can be quite daunting to the uninitiated, the commute to my office job is less than 2kms and takes less than 10 minutes when I ride super slow during the heat of summer to reduce sweatiness. It’s not really what I would call an ‘adventure‘.
A few weeks earlier another (rather more) portly gentleman gave me quite a lecture on the risks of riding my bike on the road and advised me to stay off them. As I listened to him forcefully speak about how good the bike paths are in Townsville (he would know, not having ever ridden on them) and how inconvenient it is for him when bike riders take up space on the road, I realised something really really important!
My ‘adventurous’ bike riding, to work, to the shops, out for dinner, to far flung destinations while cycle touring, is indeed adventurous! It’s a fun adventure that keeps me fit and healthy, allows me to find easy parking and feel the air blowing through my t-shirt (I was going to say hair, but the helmet kind of kills that concept) and smell the roses or roadkill or whatever else is out there that day.
There is another type of adventure that is far less fun, and one that I could have brought to the attention of these two well-meaning portly gentlemen. This adventure involves living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. It involves driving a car 2kms to work or the shops or around the corner to your friend’s house instead of walking or riding a bike. It involves becoming so unfit and unhealthy that the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and a multitude of other disease risks, rear their ugly heads.
Far less people are killed or injured on bicycles when they are riding their bikes than people who suffer illness, disability or death from living an unnecessarily sedentary and unhealthy life.
I know which adventure I choose.