Remember the thrill you got from racing around the neighborhood on your bicycle as a child? You owned the world. Although many of us have tucked away the memory of that fun-filled freedom, Melanie Bell of Santa Monica, California, still makes the sensation of biking an integral part of her fitness, stress reduction and recreational regime. Whether on the beaches of Southern California or in the French countryside, Bell continues to seek and enjoy the excitement of the trails.
“I love biking because it allows you to go places inaccessible by other modes of transportation. You gain a different perspective on things and notice aspects of life missed by car or train,” says the Director of Business Development for Virgin Entertainment, the United Kingdom-based company. She cites her recent five-day group tour through the South of France as one of her highlights. “I love France, but had never experienced the South on my own terms,” she raves.
Not everyone is ready for a week-long bike tour in a foreign country. “I asked several friends and they all thought I was crazy. They just weren’t interested in a strenuous week of riding all day. I typically woke up at 7:00 a.m. and hit the road by 8:00 a.m., which was a trial for me since I am not at all a morning person. Additionally, getting in and out of the small towns was challenging with road traffic of honking cars and trucks, not to mention speeding bikers.”
Despite the physical demands of biking, Bell says the sensation is worth it. “During those moments when I’d get a good pace, when I’m really connected with the bike and the road, I’d feel a huge smile on my face with the sun on my shoulders and the wind against my brow. Those times could never be replicated, especially not in a gym. It’s a powerful feeling because you can use your own energy to move ahead.”
Mountain bike average starting price $300
Road bike average starting price $600
Repair kit and other accessories up to $100
Source: Metro Bicycle Stores (212-663-7531)
Bicycling for Dummies by Allen St. John (IDG Books Worldwide, $19.99)
Bicycling Magazine’s Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills: Your Guide
to Riding Faster, Stronger, Longer and Safer by Ed Pavelka (Rodale Press, $15.95)
Cycling the USA: Bicycle Touring Nationwide by John M. Smith
(Motorbooks International, $15.95)
Bicycling Magazine Online: www.bicyclingmagazine.com-tips, events, company listings, tours.
Bike-alog: www.bikealog.com-bike shops by area and prices.
The Cycle Source: www.cyclesource.net-links to other sites, bike finders, swaps, etc.