Reasons I ride a bicycle By Gabriel Slape The inevitable was coming and there was nothing either of us could do about it. No matter how we tried we would not be able to resist. We would have to let go of our 30s. Not too long ago both my wife and I were faced with the prospect of turning 40. Milestone birthdays can make you stop and think. The more I thought, the more I knew that I needed to get out and get more exercise. We already had some decent bikes hanging around in the garage, nothing fancy. They were still in good shape despite the fact that they had not seen much use in the last few years. We had always enjoyed riding and decided that this might be a way for us to get more active. That's when the doubts start: Am in good enough shape to ride? Where can I ride a bike? Is it even safe to ride on the streets of El Paso, TX? They say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. We have easily racked up more than a thousand miles since taking the small step of loading the bikes in the car and riding a few loops around Ascarate Park for the first time in December 2014. At first, just a few laps around the park at a very leisurely pace was challenging enough for us. Eventually we decided to expand to some longer rides on a “few” local bike paths that serve mainly as recreation. As time went by we gained the stamina and confidence to extend our rides. We found a weekly ride hosted by Chuck’s Bicycle Repair, a local bike shop and considered giving it a try. Then the doubts started up again: Are we good enough to ride with a group? Are these guys way more serious about biking than us? We once again ignored the doubts and joined the group ride where we found riders of all types and abilities. We had a great time and still make sure that we join the ride every week. This group ride helped us to gain the confidence and skills to go out and ride the streets and even after dark. Since last December we have progressed to riding 3-4 or more times a week. Aside from the obvious health benefits, we have realized many other perks from riding our bikes. We have met so many wonderful people while riding. We have also been able to explore our city and see it from a different perspective. The bicycle is the perfect speed to see the world. You can see so much more from a bicycle than you can from a car and you can cover more ground than can by walking. Riding together, my wife and I spend more quality time and work together as a team as we navigate our way through this great city. We enjoy riding so much that we have started using our car less, thus reducing congestion and air pollution and try using our bikes to take care of errands and shopping trips. The best thing about biking is that it does not require a lot of expensive accessories or complicated equipment. If you have the desire, a bike that is in good condition, properly fitting helmet, repair kit and pump for flat tires, and water bottle or camel back, you have nearly everything you need to enjoy endless miles bike riding fun. It doesn’t take any special skills and we learned to ride a bike when we were young children. All it takes is a minimal but conscious amount of preparation to have a fun and easy cross-town bicycle adventure. Riding is something that you can do solo, with your loved ones, or join one of the many weekly group rides. Biking can be more than just a hobby and there many people in El Paso that choose the bike as their main mode of transportation. If you a looking for a way to get active, explore the city, or simply want an alternative to driving, get on a bike and ride. Maybe you will take a weekly ride around your neighborhood or maybe, like us, you will keep finding new reasons to ride more often. I work in an office but do a small amount of physical work during the day. Biking is my primary form of exercise. Before biking I did very little exercise at all and now, aside from riding we try to walk more often instead of driving in instances where it’s more convenient to walk than bike. On a progressive 1-10 scale of activity, 10 being the highest, I was at level 0 activity before biking and at level 7 activity now.

Copyright © 2020 Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition.
A 501©(3) nonprofit organization.