30 Days of Biking!
I just did it! I pledged to join the 30 Days of Biking project! This will be my first time being part of this fantastic project and bike challenge and I'm really excited about it.
According to the website, 30 Days of Biking is a pledge to ride your bike every day in April, any distance, any destination, and to share your adventures online. Using the hashtag #30daysofbiking, you can join this biking community made up of pledgers from all over the world and post your photos on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and other social media platforms. Also, for every 2 pledges received, the program will donate $1 to the World Bicycle Relief organization. The goal is to reach 10,000 pledges in 2016!
When I made my pledge maybe 10 minutes ago, my number was at 6,673. During the minutes that passed since then, the pledges went up to 6,692! I have a good feeling that we'll be able to reach the 10,000 goal. I hope so anyway! I also hope I'll be able to do this thing.
I've never done any kind of biking challenge before, and my RA can be a limiting, negative factor sometimes regarding my ability to ride my bike. Despite having RA, being overweight and out-of-shape, and sometimes not being great at being disciplined, I really want to do this and give it a good shot. And, of course, I'm excited to take and share photos of my biking adventures along the way.
Biking is one of the very few forms of exercise I can do while having RA. Taking walks is out of the question, due to my perpetually inflamed and painful feet and ankles. Not being able to take leisurely walks without suffering considerable pain still deeply saddens and angers me. Thanks to two unsuccessful ankle surgeries and disease progression over the years, going on walks as an enjoyable way to exercise is now just a part of my able-bodied past.
The thought of running or jogging is so ridiculous it makes me want to keel over with laughter and tears at the impossibility of it. No way--not unless I have some sick, masochistic desire to make my body explode from pain and deformity. But biking I can handle, thank God. Most of the time. And I'm very thankful for that.
Biking is a good activity for people with RA who have foot and ankle problems because when you're sitting on a bike, the pressure and weight of your body is taken off your feet. It's not the perfect solution though for someone with RA who is seeking an effective and pain-free way to exercise. Depending on the type of handlebars on your bike, wrists can become inflamed and painful. The repetitive cycling motion of your legs can also cause pain and flare-ups in knees, which I can personally attest to and has been my main challenge with bicycling.
Despite my usual frustrations with biking while having RA--mainly the sore knees--I've found it to be a wonderful way to get exercise and to help improve not only my physical self but my mental and emotional states as well.
I love taking quiet rides alone, outside in the fresh air and nature, and giving myself the chance and permission to calm and slow down. I've noticed that when I've gone biking on a regular basis, not only has my RA improved but my moods seem to be a lot lighter and more stable. My energy levels noticeably improve. Chronic headaches that are often immobilizing with their pain seem to "magically" get better, too.
An important aspect about biking, of course, is making sure that your bike fits you correctly and is properly adjusted for your body and your physical needs. The height of the seat can make a huge difference regarding knee pain. So can the placement and tilt of the handlebars. I've found that an upright bike is what works best for me, so far. I'm not leaning, hunched over the handlebars while putting considerable weight and pressure on my hands and wrists. Having the bike professionally adjusted by someone who knows what he or she is doing is also essential. The times that I've had knee problems from biking, I suspect that my bike actually needed a re-adjustment.
All of this talk about biking is making me want to get out there and jump on my bike right now and pedal away--escape for a bit. I can't emphasize enough all of the wonderful things there are about biking. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don't ride my bike enough, because I know that it's good for me and for my RA. I also know that I wind up feeling better every time after I go on a bike ride.
So! I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I have not taken my bike out for a spin yet this Spring. I am, however, excited to be part of 30 Days of Biking. I think it's the motivation I need now to get back into exercising and especially to reignite the joy of riding my bike.
If anybody is interested (I hope you are!) in also pledging to join the 30 Days of Biking project, I really hope you will. While the project was founded in Minneapolis, MN in 2010, people from over the world participate. You can bring the project and create events for the month of April in your own city, too!
Here is the 30 Days of Biking press kit for more information:
Happy biking, everyone! I'll let you know how this adventure goes. And if you can't go biking, I hope you can find some form of exercise to do this Spring that makes you and your RA feel great.
Right now, what RA tips would most be helpful for you?