Tag: Biking

Guest Blog – Meg Huffman – South Dakota

The following blog post is from a Guest on a trip. We wanted to feature it as it answers a few questions that we get quite a bit. We hope you enjoy. 

My family is very choosey about vacations.  As our three boys get older, it is harder and harder to find a time when we can all be together. Between school, college, sailing, skiing, and all the other activities we do over the year, finding time for a bike trip was a serious challenge.

When we settled on a week that worked for everyone, the folks at Western Spirit suggested biking the Black Hills in South Dakota. I have never even thought about going to South Dakota and it was definitely not on my bucket list. Still, I listened to the folks at  Western Spirit about riding though the forest and camping on some beautiful lakes and decided the combo of nature’s beauty, exercise, and great food might be just the family vacation we needed.  Plus, the whole trip is at a reasonable altitude–compared to Colorado or other famous out-west destinations – so I was pretty sure everyone would enjoy the biking.

There was the uncertainty of the other people on the trip…I wasn’t at all sure I wanted strangers joining us on vacation.  We had done a couple of Western Spirit trips before, but they were private trips, so we knew everyone already. This was the biggest and best surprise of all. We thoroughly enjoyed the other folks we met on our trip.

Bottom line, on a scale of 1 to 10, the trip was a 12. The guides Chris Abell and Terrin Frey made it easy, fun, relaxing and, well, just tremendous!  The riding was a nicely balanced combination of cruisey downhills and nice climbs. The camps were in great spots with easy access to the lakes.  Our family goes boating all the time, but there was something especially fun about the trip across the lake on the party barge.

This trip was all about being outside, getting exercise, laughing, smiling and being grateful to have the chance to be in a gorgeous part of the world with my family and other fun, interesting people. Further, I had no responsibilities—I didn’t have to think about what time it was, when I needed to start dinner (or breakfast or lunch!), if the boat had gas, whether the gears on my bike would work smoothly—I just got to enjoy my husband and sons, pedal my heart out and kick back.

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10 Health Benefits of Cycling

In case you haven’t heard, this cycling thing is pretty good for you. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially, spending some good time spinning on two wheels is sure to improve your quality of life. Here’s how:

Fresh Air

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Getting outside is a surefire way to keep your system functioning optimally. Fresh air in your lungs and a little sun on your skin increases levels of vitamin D and invigorates your cardiovascular system.

Weight Management

This might be an obvious one, but cycling burns calories and regulates your energy and appetite. Cycling is especially great for weight management because cycling workouts tend to be longer than others, like running or weight lifting. Working out for a longer period of time at varied levels of intensity helps to keep your body in fat-burning mode for longer, including after your workout.

Stress Management

Stress reduction is a by-product of many of the other benefits on this list—and it’s an important thing to consider in our busy, technology-ridden lives. Any form of exercise is known to reduce stress by balancing brain chemistry and increasing physical well-being.  Cycling in particular is a great stress buster because it is achievable and attainable for people of varying levels of fitness. Cycling provides significantly less physical impact to your body than other sports like running, making it a perfect activity to ease into.

Social Bonding

Cycling is awesome because you can do it alone or with friends. If you need some time to yourself, head out for a quiet ride. Or, if you’re feeling like a more social interaction, plan a trip with friends, or just a morning ride to a favorite restaurant for brunch. Connecting with friends and family in this different context helps to deepen relationships and create meaningful bonds.

Strength Development

Cycling makes you strong! The leg workout might be most obvious, but cycling is actually a pretty comprehensive workout. If you pay attention (and want to improve) you can increase core strength, and even your upper body. It’s great cross training for other sports, like running, swimming, and skiing.

Sense of Accomplishment

There’s nothing like making it to the top of a hill on a bike to make you feel accomplished! The tasks in your life may be a little more complicated to tackle, so why not build a few hill climbs into your days, your weeks, your summer?

Endorphin Boost

It’s no secret that exercise sends feel-good chemicals to your brain. Endorphins released by exercise improve mood, decrease stress, and increase our capacity for connection with others. Once again, these benefits last long after your ride is finished.

Time away

Stepping away from your desk, your phone, your family, and the laundry can all help you return to your tasks with a fresh mind and more balanced perspective. This will make you more effective in all areas of your life, and prevent the accumulation of stress over time. It’s simple, really. Just a little bike break goes a long way.

Mental Agility

Just like crossword puzzles and adult coloring engage different parts of your brain, focusing your mind on physical coordination helps to keep it balanced and healthy as you age. Cycling keeps your brain connections firing on all cylinders.

Perseverance

In case you ever question your ability to grow and improve, to stick with a challenge, or to learn something new, you can always hop on your bike and track your progress. I would venture to say it’s impossible to commit to regular training and not see changes in your experience on and off your bike. These little rewards can keep us going through the challenges in life, and remind us of what we are capable of!

So plan your trip, start your training program, hop on your bike, and get ready to see the ripples through all aspects of your health.

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