Bike Ride to Health


Betsy Finley

Every year I take my vacation to Chadron State Park—Nebraska’s best kept secret—so that I can relax and re-center my life. It’s a wonderful place to do just that; and, on a quiet, cool night, as I lay in my bed reading the latest Stephen King novel of short stories, I had an Epiphany! The short story I was reading started out like a carbon copy of something I did years earlier while living in Aspen, Colorado.

I was struggling with my weight, as I have for most of my life, and in Aspen if you are not “scary skinny” you are considered fat. I also struggled with self-esteem trying desperately to fit in, knowing full-well that I’d never be that thin person, especially in Aspen.

At this point in my life, I was probably only 20 pounds overweight, but it didn’t matter to those who lived there. On one sunny day, while I walked my lunch hour away, I found myself standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change. As a car went through the intersection, I suddenly heard someone yell, “Join Weight Watchers, it will work better!”

I looked around to see who they were talking to… I was all alone, so I had to assume they were talking to me. My self-esteem plummeted and I wondered if I’d ever be thin enough.

A co-worker brought her stationery bike to work and set it up in the basement of the building I worked in at the time. I’d come in at night—to run backups, which took an hour to run—so I chose, then, to utilize that hour to ride the bike. My first time on the bike made me realize how boring riding a stationery bike can be, and so I came up with a plan to take an imaginary bike ride from Aspen, CO to Omaha, Nebraska where my folks lived.

On this imaginary trip, which I estimated to take about a month, I made it from Aspen to about 45 miles east of Denver. Unfortunately, the pedals on the bike broke so that was the end of my imaginary journey! Unfortunately, it was also the end of me keeping weight off…heavy sigh.

Years later, when I had moved to Colorado Springs, CO I found myself growing ever larger—again!  Still, Colorado Springs was a welcome place, far from the scrutiny of Aspen, so I quit fretting over my weight and started working on my self-esteem.

It has taken me years to learn to love myself, just the way that I am. Occasionally, however, thoughts of that day in Aspen, standing on the street corner, would fly back into my mind; but, I no longer cared what others thought about me (because that is simply outside of my control).

My most recent trip to the doctors, though, brings me to the parallel with the Stephen King novel…As kind as my doctor is, he dwells on my weight and even hand the nerve to suggest that I have weight reduction surgery!

I knew that was something I never wanted to do. But, I also knew I needed to start thinking about reducing—not to be thin so others would like me—but for health reasons, alone.

So when I had my epiphany I thought: “Hey, that recumbent bike in the basement that has become a clothes hanger… Why not get on that thing and recreate the bike ride I started in Aspen years earlier!  Maybe this time, I attempt to ride it longer than 5 minutes.”   So, I began to create my imaginary story afresh in my mind.  I started on June 18th and so far I’ve ridden 30 miles!

In my imaginary world, I’ve escaped the sarcastic and negative lifestyle of Aspen and I’m now spending the day in Carbondale, Colorado… Why, maybe tonight I can travel far enough to make it all the way to Glenwood Springs where, on my imaginary bike ride, I can relax in the hot springs pool there before starting the long trek down I-70 into Denver where I’ll need to make a major decision on which direction to go.

The neat thing is, if I decide to change directions—I can; if I decide I want to go to Hawaii on my bike—I can, because it’s imaginary and one can do whatever they want in an imaginary world…even ride on water!

You see, we all have the ability to utilize the right sides of our brains and, if it helps one get their bodies into a healthy state of being, so much the better.   So, put down that remote and decide just what your choice of travel will be (i.e., walking, biking, running) and start doing. Let your mind take you to wherever you want to go. You, too, will find you have more energy, a better mindset to face actual daily obstacles, and can bring you closer to God—since its God’s gift of imagination to us that allows us to go any where in this world.

May He bless you all, and (oh, yes) happy travels!


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