Every morning I set out from my house exerting a fair amount of force in alternating intervals on respective pedals. Despite the remarkably complicated nature pertaining to which muscle should fire off at which time and with what degree of intensity, I am able to perform this task with very limited effort. I am easily able to maintain the required effort for long enough to carry me on my Chariot to my place of work, a short 14 miles from my home. What is most impressive about this feat is that my body does not require an input of gasoline, because over the previous several hours my gastrointestinal tract has extracted key nutrients and fuel from the delicious foods I consumed the previous day and distributed said nutrients to the proper tissues.
Over time, humans have replaced manual effort with increasingly complex machinery. We have invented cranes to build buildings, scrapers to move large quantities of soil, ships to cross oceans. I do not wish to understate how important these inventions have been. Nonetheless, the unfortunate side-effect to all of this mechanization is that it has created the impression that we are incapable of doing amazing things without external power provided by internal combustion engines. The magnificence of the human body has hitherto been downplayed. Now, we have a difficult time wrapping our brains around the idea that we could use our own human power to take us short distances on a daily basis.
When I engage in conversations with others regarding my daily commute, there is always a certain level of disbelief.
“I can’t believe you are able to do that!”
“Wait? How far do you ride every day?”
“You must be in such good shape.”
I always appreciate the envy and the underlying assumptions, but the truth is that I am far from super human. It is true that over time my body has adapted quite nicely to the requirement of my daily bicycle commute. My cardiovascular system is certainly above average in terms of efficiency, and my leg muscles maintain a certain level of hypertrophy. I certainly, however, did not start that way. I have never been a elite athlete; I was even overweight at one point in my life.
What makes me different than most people is that at one point I decided to exercise every day by riding my bicycle to work. This simple decision, which has transformed into an intractable habit, has changed my body into what it is today.
Is it not amazing that our bodies have the ability for such profound transformation?
We are not stuck in the body that we have today. We can make decisions that allow for us to become something entirely different! If you believe that your body is incapable of such things, I challenge you to acquire a bicycle (if you do not already own one), dress appropriately, and hop on this bicycle on the morning of your next work day. When you are done with work, head the opposite direction. Repeat every day.
Not only will you enjoy improved performance of your organ systems: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, et cetera; you will be free of your dreaded car commute and enjoying the wonderful outdoors!
Have you undergone a massive change in the shape and function of your body as a result of your daily bicycle commute? Are you still on the sidelines? Please leave your comments below.