Don Feidner

My Reason for Cycling

Last Update: 19 September 2010

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Escape to Reality!

Several people have asked me whether my reason for spending so much time on a bicycle is an “escape from reality”, but the answer is clearly the opposite. It is an escape to reality.

Our world has become a place where most people race to work, zip back home, send SMS messages on their cell phones, sit in front of their computers, and spend countless hours before the TV - never stopping to smell the roses along the way.  If you greet someone and say, “How are you today?” the answer is normally “Fine, Thanks” as they rush on by. I have often wondered how others would react if I were to answer the same question posed to me with something like: “I’m glad you asked. Let’s sit down and talk about it for a while!” Would anyone other than my closest friends take the time?

In this century, at least here in Germany, most people live in an unreal world -- a world of “virtual reality.” About five years ago, as I was driving my car through the city at around 8:30 p.m., I noticed that there was a flickering bluish glow in the windows of 95% of the homes I passed, and all the streets were deserted. According to the latest report, the average person watches 3 1/2 hours of television per day. The only people in the “Marktplatz” (town square) were foreigners that were not as well off financially as most Germans.

I confess that I had also grown too fat and complacent because of my own lack of physical activity. In addition to my lung problems, diabetes and high blood pressure also began to hinder my ability to enjoy life.

Realizing the need for change, I did two things simultaneously:  I began to paddle a kayak and ride a bicycle. The kayaking was good for my arms and stomach and the biking was the best sport for my legs and circulatory system. I also changed my diet (eating only a small amount about 5 or 6 times per day when I got hungry). In less than two years, the diabetes and high blood pressure went away, my cholesterol level dropped from 326 to 147, and I lost 60 pounds of excess fat - trimming down to my high school weight of 160 pounds. No, it wasn’t easy; it required a lot of discipline and time. But it was worth the effort.

In trimming down, I discovered something very exciting. Instead of watching what others were doing on television, I began doing it myself. Earlier, I had found it fascinating to watch TV shows about people climbing mountains, exploring caves, and travelling to distant lands. And in fact that was the journey I had begun several years before, but I was waylaid. Anyone who knows me, knows that my life has been everything but boring, but somehow a certain complacency had taken over.

So my bike trips are a time to reflect, to meet and converse with people about whatever topic is a driving force in their life. They are a time – as they have already become – for taking pictures, enjoying nature without the stresses of everyday life, and discovering what was discovered so many years ago ... and then forgotten.

In the few short trips I’ve taken in preparation for the big one, I had already begun to “live” again. You ask whether it is lonely? There’s not even a remote possibility. During my trips, I meet someone new nearly every day and we enjoy hiking and biking together. It is not uncommon for me to spend many hours in conversation with the people I meet about a myriad of topics. I’ve learned that most people want to talk about their lives – about their accomplishments, about their dreams, and about their reason for living. Most people want to share their wisdom – what they have learned in their lives. And so I find myself back in school again, like a student learning about topics such as:

  • Hiking Effortlessly in the Alps
  • Outdoor Cooking for Gourmets
  • Planting and Fertilizing Vineyards
  • Western Communication in Islamic Culture

Ride along with me somtime, breathe some fresh air, feel the sunshine on your shoulders and the wind in your face, and discover the excitement.

Why pump more exhaust fumes into the environment?
Think Green!


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