I remember the first time I rode down the hill toward the city park after my dad took my training wheels off. Such a feeling of exhilaration and freedom! I still like to ride my bike, and that feeling has never gone away. I got back into cycling in 2008, and rode 110 miles of the MS 150 in eastern Kansas with my brother’s team. Then I spent five wonderful days on Sanibel Island in Florida, with only a bicycle for transportation.
If you don’t have a bicycle, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get one. The Des Moines Bike Collective, at 617 Grand Avenue, repairs used bicycles and sells them at a reasonable cost. They also offer classes on bicycle maintenance.
Where can you ride? The streets are okay, if you ride carefully, but the Des Moines area has about 300 miles of wonderful trails for riding. Some of them lead out into the countryside where you can glide through wooded areas and between cornfields. Some of the trails lead to small towns where you can stop and rest in a park or get a snack at a store.
If you get started and decide that you really like riding, you might want to think about riding your bike across Iowa. The Des Moines Register sponsors a ride across the state every year, called RAGBRAI. As part of RAGBRAI, the newspaper also sponsors a group called The Dream Team, where experienced bicyclers are paired with at-risk teens. The group trains together during the spring and summer, preparing for the big ride across the state in late July.
Women across the world are into bicycle riding and racing; last spring I watched young women in Paris riding their bikes to work in skirts and heels! Find out more about women and cycling and see if it’s for you.