Lisa Learns to Ride, Part II

Our riding adventures began last spring when we wheeled Lisa’s new bicycle out of the local REI store and into our car. Before that moment, Lisa had tested several bikes, trying to ensure that she chose one that combined durability, price, comfort and ease of use all in one package.

Buying a bike for someone with RA

As we worked through the bike-buying process, I realized that considering the impact of the bike on her joints was quite important. Certainly, it factored more heavily into the selection process than it might have with other prospective cyclists. A good bike would need handlebars that were comfortable and gear shifters and brakes that were responsive, within reach, and easy to use. Likewise, the bicycle needed to be easy on her knees and ankles.

After test-riding four bikes, she settled on a German-made hybrid, a cross between a mountain bike with front-end suspension and a road bike with hydraulic disc brakes. The bike’s controls felt responsive to her and she was immediately comfortable with it. The bike cost more than she’d originally wanted to spend, but she felt it was significantly better than any other she’d tested.

With a new bike in hand and the spring weather finally cooperating, we were excited to go cycling together!

Getting used to biking again

As Lisa hadn’t cycled in nearly 20 years, we started with short rides around our neighborhood. Though basic, these trips proved helpful. After one of our initial trips, I recall Lisa exclaimed to me, “Rob, our neighborhood is really hilly!” Despite living in our neighborhood for over ten years, Lisa discovered that traversing it by bike was very different than doing so by car.

The comfort Lisa gained with changing terrain on these early rides later proved beneficial to her when we began to do longer trail rides. As we explored more of the region, Lisa and I found ourselves on many adventures. One such adventure late last fall particularly stands out in my mind.

Experiencing the environment as we bike

The autumn afternoon was gray and chilly as Lisa and I mounted our bikes and began pedaling past thickets of brown-hued vegetation. The warmth and cheer of the brewery faded into the distance, while my car, our destination, sat parked some miles ahead. I’d never been one for cold weather or the early darkness that comes at year-end, but somehow I found myself oddly enjoying the brisk, overcast day immensely. Another afternoon cycling with Lisa was more than worth the chill.

Under the growing darkness, a large buck previously hidden in the undergrowth sprang up along the side of the trail. It couldn’t have been more than 15 yards ahead of us. Thrilled at this unexpected display of nature, I quickly glanced back at Lisa to see that she had also seen the deer. She smiled from ear to ear and then urged me to stay alert as the animal began to zig and zag across our path in great bounds. Slowing my pace, I watched it continue to leap along beside the trail until at last it crossed a road, veered off toward a fence, and then bounded onto a golf course and disappeared. Though we still had miles to go, I knew this ride was a resounding success, as had been nearly every ride we’d taken together over the course of the year.


With springtime knocking on our door, Lisa and I are excited to gear up to hit the trails once again. Although deer may not race with us on every journey, we can certainly call upon their spirit to guide us as we feel the exhilarating thrill of the wind past our ears and ride side by side.

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