In shape by everyday bike rides

Twenty five years ago I decided to prove that cycling for everyday purposes is a very effective way to keep you in shape. At that time I cycled 3 kilometres to highschool and delivered papers in Valkenswaard (near Eindhoven) in a 13 kilometres round. For leisure I cycled on the same regular single speed Dutch bike in the countryside. I even went to the hills of Limburg. My means to show my point was to take unprepared part in a racing bike event, initiated by the local bike shop.

This Diekirch-Valkenswaard tour of 255 kilometres was in those times (1988) one of the heaviest one day tour events, mainly because it is an A-to-B ride through the hilly Ardennes. For many bike touring clubs it was the event of the year. I borrowed a racing bike from the bike shop and practiced the week before in operating it. It was quite uncomfortable with the gear shifters mounted on the tube and the bended steer. And those clothing! Thight lycra shorts in bright colors! But I managed to ride the tour in dreadful rainy circumstances and arrived at 7:15 pm in time at the marked square in Valkenswaard.

With myself I made the promise to ride this tour every 5 years again as a good reason to show you don’t have to ride a racing bike every week to fullfil this journey  and to keep yourself in shape. Yesterday I rode this Diekirch-Valkenswaard for the sixth time. Every time I took part in this tour personal circumstances had changed, but cycling remained one of the continuing factors. Also this year the base for my condition is still the everyday cycling. Nowadays my commute to Utrecht is 14 kilometres one way, so with shopping and leisure I easily make 180 kilometres a week. And a cycling holiday in – not so flat as Netherlands – Denmark seems to be a good preparation for a long distance ride too. I make approximately 9000 kilometres a year on my regular bike, so far more than the 1000 kilometres on my racing bike. Yes, finally I bought one, first a second hand and after an total loss accident – no scratch on my helmet – I bought a new one.

At the finish in Valkenswaard

At the finish in Valkenswaard

A nice 18 speed Giant with all the modern “comforts” of a racing bike.

And yes, I have the idea that cycling on a regular basis keeps you in a better shape than going to the gym. During the last 25 years my weight was rather the same, with some one or two kilograms fluctuation. And when I compare myself with others of my age, I can clearly see the difference between Dutch style cyclists like myself and non-cyclists.

Of course this is all anecdotal evidence, which is proved by objective science.