Steve Hansen: Cycling way to stay in shape, enjoy scenery

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By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

One of the joys of my retirement has been getting reacquainted with my road and mountain bikes.

By bikes, I mean human-powered machines, not Harleys.

I usually ride the road bike.

Road bikes are the ones with the really skinny wheels and the handlebars that curve down in a C shape. Tour de France bikes are very expensive road bikes.

The road bike feels efficient. You glide along and have enough time to appreciate the scenery you pass but not enough to get bored with it.

In recent weeks, with the road bike temporarily disabled, I have rediscovered the mountain bike. It’s slower, but you can explore dirt roads and trails because the wheels are fatter and more stable.

Tucumcari is surrounded by excellent cycling roads. Most have wide, paved shoulders, and the rolling landscape provides just enough climbs and coasts to keep things interesting.

Quay County drivers always steer wide around me and the bike. Thank you.

I generally shun the cyclists’ full regalia. The complete uniform involves a helmet; a bright, ultra-light, body-hugging jersey that doesn’t flap in the breeze; and thigh-grabbing, strategically padded bike shorts.

On me, the full outfit brings to mind a ballet dancer who won’t acknowledge that his glory days at the Bolshoi were at least three decades ago. To avoid being laughed out of town, I settle for a bright T-shirt and wear gym shorts over the bike tights. But I wear a helmet, always.

Cycling keeps me in shape, but I recently learned that cycling mysteriously burns more calories than running for what feels like less effort.

A Tour de France rider typically burns 4,000 to 5,000 calories in a four- to five-hour racing day, riding about 100 miles at speeds that average 25 to 28 mph. A good marathon runner typically expends about 2,500 calories for pounding out 26.2 miles in three hours at a little more than 8 mph.

Why this would be true is beyond me.  I’d rather pedal for five hours than run for three any day.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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