I got my Streetstrider, an outdoor elliptical bike, back in December 2013. Since, I've found it increasingly difficult to exercise aerobically indoors.
It's just so much more enjoyable to be out in nature, usually on the Minto Brown Island Park paved trails, than chugging away on an indoor elliptical bike at the Courthouse Athletic Club, like I did for many years.
Here I am, selfie'ing myself and my beloved yellow Streetstrider this afternoon in the midst of a day that saw 58 mph gusts at the Salem airport.
Starting out from parking lot 1, heading toward the dog park, I'll admit that my determination to exercise outside whenever possible wavered a bit when the wind was pushing me sideways so fiercely, I could barely make progress pedaling even in one of the lowest Streetstrider gears.
But once I got into treed areas, I thought "Great decision, Brian, to choose being in nature over an athletic club room."
I get into a lot of conversations with other people who are enjoying Minto Brown Park. A yellow Streetstrider is definitely an attention-grabber.
In the course of explaining how the bike works -- you stand up, using both legs and arms to power it, which makes for a great full-body workout -- I almost always say that the Streetstrider has gotten me addicted to doing my aerobic thing outside, even if it is raining, windy, or whatever.
To me, it's a lot like the classic slogan: The worst day fishing is better than the best day working. Except I make it, The worst day exercising outside is better than the best day exercising inside.
Not surprisingly, since I'm talking to people standing on a Minto Brown Park trail, I get a lot of replies along the line of "I feel the same way."
I realize that biking, walking, or running along in wet, windy, and/or cold weather isn't for everybody. At times I question my own sanity when I'm out and about on my Streetstrider in conditions that are keeping most people away from Minto Brown.
However, my feeling when I get back to the parking lot keeps me biking three days a week as often as I can, year-round, rain or shine.
Summed up in one word: Real.
These 21st century days we're exposed to a lot of virtual reality. Television. Computers. Smart phones. As much as I enjoy these things, I also hunger for really real natural reality. Feeling the wind push me around today -- joyous.
It was what it was, as the saying goes.
I had to deal with the conditions as they were, not as how I'd like them to be. Sure, I prefer 85 degrees and sunny. But I've Streetstrided in 32 degrees, windy, and cloudy. Like I said, those outings in the winter were more enjoyable than being on an indoor elliptical machine in a 70 degree room with TV's staring at me.
This afternoon I got out my iPhone, pushed the "video" button, and held it while I (somewhat laboriously) pedaled along with just one hand. Had to document my high wind day.
Since so many people in Salem, as everywhere, are like me -- addicted to being active outside -- I'm hoping that the message of Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates hits home with our Mayor and City Council.
This town needs more dedicated multi-use trails, as well as safe city streets that can go by various names: Bicycle Boulevards = Family Friendly Bikeways = Neighborhood Greenways = Quiet Streets.
If you agree, give Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates a Facebook "like."