Lifestyle Kuel Life Contributor: Kim Friedman Landau
“I feel free, soaring with strength in my body and power in my spirit. I feel healthy, in control of my destiny, and in rhythm with nature.”
This was my answer when my brother asked me what I love about bicycling. While now an essential part of my being, that was not true six years ago when David and I met for the first time on a cold February day. Most of his adult life he has been an accomplished bicyclist; I had not ridden a bike in 25 years and at most for a few miles. David intrigued me immediately, but I wasn’t smitten with bicycling until sometime that summer. I am not sure which I fell in love with first, David or the biking, though it doesn’t matter, as they are forever intertwined in my heart.
We lived in neighboring states and the first time David came to visit me, he asked if he could bring his bike. I knew it was important for him to ride, so I not only agreed, but also thought it might be fun to do a little biking as well and see if I liked it.
My old heavy Schwinn was retrieved from storage at my ex’s and I had it tuned up and tires replaced. When David arrived that weekend, I was ready to roll, literally!
He was happy to take a short ride with me and do his own longer one later. I did not know then that we were embarking on two great love affairs together.
Exercise had been a part of my life for a long time in one variation or another. Over the years I had enjoyed aerobic dancing, working out in a gym, and eventually became a dedicated walker. I bought a treadmill and walked on it at least three miles a day in colder months and outside in the warmer ones. Walking became a way for me to lose weight, and I also found myself taking the time to hit the pause button on life and do some self-reflection, having many valuable “light bulb” moments. Biking offers its own rewards but uses different muscles and has a cadence all its own. It was an adjustment for my 58 years old body and one I did not readily trust.
David, on the other hand, was easy to trust. He never pushed, only gently encouraged, taking my lead while helping me believe in myself.
Three miles turned into six, six turned into twelve. The street riding that was natural for David was scary for me, so we began exploring the nearby trails designed for bikers and walkers which was a way to experience riding that was new for David as well. The trails meander through woods and farmland, along rivers, ponds, and the ocean, usually away from the main roads. We found ourselves able to focus on the joys of biking, the surrounding beauty, and each other not worrying about dodging cars or busy intersections. I started to relax into it, and as we biked conversation flowed; we began to really get to know each other and connect on a deeper level.
“Within a year, I was hooked and had totally committed myself to the sport AND the man.”
I bought a new bike, moved to Boston, where David was; and our adventure began. We settled in, and a new yearning emerged: I needed to challenge myself more with my biking. The first time I completed a trail of 19 miles, I took great pride in my accomplishment, delighting David as I then set my sights on longer distances. Each Spring, I was able to get off the treadmill and dive back into the biking stronger and more capable, enabling me to cover more miles. I felt driven to always establish another new “personal best”, at the same time never losing the joy that biking brought to us as a couple while we pedaled our way throughout New England.
Two years ago, I hit my pinnacle with a ride of 55 miles. What a glorious day! Just a few years earlier six miles felt intimidating, and here I was finishing 55 with some energy to spare and at 62 years old! I liked the idea of setting my age as the riding goal, so last summer I started training to do 63 miles. Unfortunately, illness and injury curtailed my training and thus my dream. While disappointed, letting go wasn’t difficult, and I was still be proud of how far I had come with my biking fitness. This has been a strong walking winter for me, averaging 30 miles a week, and I am excited for the upcoming biking season again. In preparation, I have a new tattoo that represents my double love affair with David and bicycling, and I am excited to show it off! 64 miles at age 64, here I come . . . or maybe not . . . The point is we are never too old to find new loves; test our limits; accomplish more personal bests; have fun; get healthier; Succeed or Fail.
We are midlife Kuel women, hear us roar . . . or walk, run, lift weights, swim, bike, LOVE!!!
About the author:
Kim Friedman Landau is a 63 year old retired medical social worker who lives in Boston. She is an avid bicyclist, walker, crafter, cook, volunteer, partner, mother, sister, friend and now writer. After having cancer at age 51, Kim decided that life was a journey to be treated as an ongoing series of adventures. She is having a blast trying new things and exploring new ways to grow as a person. Blogging about what she is always learning is her latest joy.