Biking For Health

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Most of us know there is a direct link between feeling great and exercise.
And if I’m going to be hooked on something, I am always going to opt for being hooked on naturally produced endorphins instead of cigarettes, booze, drugs or foods. That’s right, you can get your legal high by simply riding a bike.

The “runner’s high,” in this case the “peddlers high,” can take you to new heights without having to run from the cops. It’s a proven fact that biking produces the happy hormone in the frontal and limbic regions of the brain—areas known to be involved in dealing with stress. Studies from Purdue University show that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent. Cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease by half. You may want to reread that last sentence and give it some thought.

So why not replace a harmful dependency—such as cigarettes, alcohol or eating too much chocolate—with a positive one? We recently met up with a couple of riding junkies to get their take on peddle addiction. They were taking a test drive on a state of the art bike at Cape Bicycle.

My name is Tim Vollink. Raised in Cape Girardeau, I went to Notre Dame High School and SEMO. I have a BS in Agriculture and a minor in Horticulture, also a BA in Graphic Design and a minor in Photography. I currently work at DSW Signs, a billboard company, as a Graphic Designer. I have two children: Conner, 11 years old, and Anna, 9 years old, from a previous marriage. I am engaged to Sarah and our first date was on a bike.

I’m Sarah Eftink. I am currently working towards becoming a physical therapist assistant. Last September I did my first full ironman competition. I have also ran 53.5 miles in 12 hours, a half ironman, marathon and ultra marathoner. I enjoy biking and running more than swimming. I also love to read, cook, and cuddling up with Tim and watching movies.

Tim: I have been interested in biking since a young age, got into the mountain bike craze in high school, and have rode most of the trails around this area and in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. I have always had problems with depression and panic attacks, and the simple freedom of getting on my bike has always been therapy. About 10 years ago, I quit cycling and my life became hectic. I started gaining weight and the depression returned. I looked to alcohol for relief. Needless to say, my life spiraled out of control. Almost five years ago I went through a messy divorce, life was unbearable, something needed to change, I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic. I was 80 pounds overweight, and I remembered one day waking up, and reaching a breaking point, or hitting bottom as they say in AA. I was watching the sunrise, and the beauty of the moment awoke something in me that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. The sheer awe of everything—almost a mystical experience. I knew I was wasting my life and remembered the joy of being outside and the freedom of cycling. It was slow going, but I eventually got back into shape, lost the 80 pounds and haven’t had a drink in 4 years. Bicycling literally helped save my life. I mostly ride my road bike now, and recently have gotten into racing. Last year I rode 6,400 miles, more miles than I put on my car, and almost all of it with Sarah. I ride with my kids, dad, and friends, but mostly with Sarah. It is my therapy, the stress of the day just washes away when I get on my bike, the open road holds so many possibilities, and now so does my life. It is like you’re a kid again. It is freedom!

I want to ride across Ireland, or go on a multiple week bike tour, do some time-trial races up in St. Louis, and a half ironman. I’m still trying to convince Sarah that a bike tour would be a great honeymoon, but she is thinking the beach. We are getting married March 2015, so I still have some time to sell the idea. I would also like to help people get into cycling, to pay it forward for all that it has done for me. It is mostly why I wanted to do this story.

Sarah: I started biking in June 2012 because I had an inflamed IT band issue. I immediately fell in love and I’ve never looked back. I had friends doing triathlons and researched how biking actually strengthens muscles that are weakened by running. I still have girlfriends that I ride with, but Tim has been my true riding partner ever since we met.

It’s a wonderful way to exercise in the great outdoors. For Tim and I, it is what we do: we ride, talk, laugh, and even get delirious and don’t make much sense. We have our deepest discussions about matters that are close to us. We have rides where we vent our sheer frustration with life and sometimes each other. We also have rides where we don’t talk at all. The best rides are when spring comes and you see the different stages of flowers and green fields of grass. It’s so awe inspiring and the sheer beauty can bring a tear to your eye.

We asked the owner of Cape Bicycle, Don Hinkebein, to tell us why biking is so good for people?

Don: With the obvious cardiovascular benefits, and its low impact on joints, cycling allows individuals to exercise for longer duration and for longer in life. It’s a wonderful way to be outside enjoying the scenery and weather, with the benefit of dissipating stress with every mile. At times it can be almost like flying, with a feeling of freedom normally reserved for children.

The bike Tim test drove, the Giant Propel, dubbed the most aero-dynamic road bike by Velo Magazine, is a professional level machine with lightweight and reliable components throughout. Its handmade carbon fiber frame, high profile wheels, specially designed seat post, handle bars, and even brake allow the bike to slice through the air allowing the cyclist to ride faster and farther. At Cape Bicycle, we continually strive to find the correct fit between bike and cyclist—whether a high end carbon fiber road bike for a seasoned cyclist, or bike path cruiser for a retired couple. With three of the best manufacturers, Giant, Specialized and Cannondale available to us, along with Surley, Schwinn, Fit and GT, we have a huge selection of bikes to choose from. We also have a full range of treadmills, ellipticals, indoor bikes and strength equipment to keep us all in shape when the weather is less than bike friendly.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE DIGITAL EDITION WITH PHOTO SPREAD. (Feb 2014 ISSUE)

  • Jane Y.

    Hi! Could you state the full source for the information from Purdue? Thanks! Also, “peddlers” sell things. “Pedalers” ride bikes.

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