Listen up. We now have essentially a 20+ mile trail route ready for you. We are approaching a new year. It's cold outside. It's a great time to buy a bike and start riding.
It was this time in 2011 when I decided I was going to get and stay in shape. I LOATHE running and with all the kids it was hard to dedicate specific times to joining a basketball league (although if you have a pickup game place let me know) so I decided to man up and start biking no matter the weather.
Back then at this time three years ago, the Line Creek stopped at 64th Street.
I hated just going down and back three or four times so I set a lofty goal. I would bike to Briarcliff and back. Riverside had some of their trail system in place so I wouldn't have to fight traffic on US 69/Gateway. This made the commitment real as there was no turning back or quiting before reaching that point as opposed to deciding how many times to go down and come back.
The first time it took me like 2.5 hours to get from my house to Briarcliff using the very short Line Creek Trail (which ended at 64th Street as noted above), then on the 4" shoulder of Waukomis Drive, then onto the old Interurban trail connector, then along the sidewalks on Gateway, then on the Linear Trail, and finally to Briarcliff expressway (confused? see map here).
It's pretty easy to bike in the cold. Get a ski mask that covers everything (like this), get a neck warmer (like these), throw on a long sleeve shirt that you can tuck in to keep your butt/back covered, a sweatshirt or two, and some gloves. The neck warmer is very important. I get cold when I have air going down my collar and through my body. The neck warmer seals that off and keeps the heat in. Wear one or two pairs of sweats and tuck the socks in over the sweats. The key is to keep all skin covered.
Anyways, I started doing this at least once a week. Now three years later, I can make it down to the river at the casino in Riverside and back in under an hour. The first time I did it, however, my legs burned in agony because they weren't conditioned for riding. Now I have enough confidence to make it downtown and back since I am in bike shape. I also have biked in snow and freezing temperatures. I figure if my grandpa's generation could survive a winter in France I could survive an hour on a weekend in the cold.
If you don't have a bike, you don't have to spend much. I recommend the 25" GMC Denali bike at Wal-MartTM which is on sale now. It's a light weight aluminum frame and easy to lift up and hang on the garage ceiling. I got mine on clearance for $99 but that was because I waited and waited and walked through the bikes every time I went to the store until I saw one marked down. I've probably put over 2500 miles on it and only had to change the tires once.
Listen, running sucks and it's not good for joints. Biking loosens up one's back and allows one to explore more ground. Who knows after a few years of getting in bike shape it might build up enough confidence and strength to navigate some dangerous road hazards and venture all over the city.
I'm living proof that a suburban slob can decide that maintaining weight is cheaper and funner than having to buy new clothes. You can do it too. It just takes the willpower and under $200 to do it.
If you have kids, there are many carriers. I like the "Cadillac" D'Lite carrier made by BurleyTM. Getting a used one is the way to go. It fits two easy.
If you get in a bind it will even carry three although I don't think that's a manufacturer recommendation......