It would be hard to say just how many inspirational conversations have been sparked between friends while enjoying a beer after a great ride; the number is probably in the trillions or even kajillions. It really isn’t important, but on just such an occasion a few years ago, a friend who worked at a bicycle shop at the time and I were discussing how cycling can change lives when he told me an interesting story about one of his customers.
On a lazy Saturday, spring afternoon, a year earlier a customer (I have no idea what his name was but let’s call him Mike) came into his store looking for a bicycle. Mike was large man and his physique could only be described as round. Mike was having health problems on account of his rotund appearance, and needed to change his bad habits quickly. At his size, well in the 300lb range, running wasn’t much of an option and dawning a Speedo to burn the calories posed certain aesthetic challenges so he decided that cycling was the key solving his problems.
Mike had a plan: He was going to leave his car at home and every chance he had, and he would use his bicycle to get around. This would burn extra calories and help him shed his extra pounds. He bought a bike that day and vowed to begin his new pedal regime on the Monday. My friend thanked him and watched Mike as he drove away with his new bike stuffed into the trunk of his car. He figured that would probably be the last he saw of Mike, but it wasn’t.
A week later, Mike rode, and awkwardly dragged his bicycle into the shop. His face was bright red and covered in sweat like a large, wet tomato, but he was beaming: “I rode my bike everyday this week,” he wheezed with a bright smile, “It’s getting easier.” That’s all he said, Mike turned, left the store and rode away. Again my friend figured he wouldn’t be seeing much of Mike after that.
But he saw Mike almost every day, riding all over town. Every few weeks, Mike would stop by to get a tune up or new part and each time he did he was noticeably smaller. Every time he stopped in he was a thinner, more energetic and happier. By the end of the summer he was in great shape. No matter where Mike was going he rode his bicycle. His bicycle had changed his life.
I heard this story about ten years ago. I lost track of my friend long ago but the story he told me about how a bicycle changed one of his customer’s lives stays with me to this day; once in a while I retell it over a beer after a great ride. A bicycle can be a powerful thing, and riding one can change almost anyone’s life.
How about you, do you know anyone who has had their life change for the better because of a bicycle? If you have, tell us your story and we’ll post it here on the blog for the world to see. Hopefully it will inspire someone else to leave their car at home and ride a bicycle a little more often.