Take 2 Wheels & Call Me In The Morning
“I just sold my business and am ready to sign up for one of your tours. But how do I convince my wife to either come along or let me go” .
While running the TDA Global Cycling booth at the New York bike show, a gentleman asked me this question. It was not the first, nor will it be the last, time I will hear this query, or some variation thereof. When it comes to the long, epic tours our company runs, someone close to an individual interested in signing up, be it husband, wife, parent, lover or partner, will likely not approve.
Usually I would suggest such options as asking the doubters to join them for a section in the middle or meeting them for a break and doing a separate trip, maybe a safari. Or I suggest, perhaps the person that is giving them a hard time should do a separate trip with their friends or other family members. That way they would not feel like they are missing out on the fun. The potential riders nod and walk away, unable to see a way out of their conundrum.
However, I now have a new, better suggestion that may just work. Tell their doubtful husband, wife, parent, lover or partner that the doctor prescribes it. I am not kidding! Just check out the recent NY Times article Take Two Bike Rides and Call Me in the Morning: Cycling as Doctor’s Orders. According to the writer there is a pilot program in the United Kingdom that allow doctors to prescribe bike rides for ‘higher well being’. This “reflects an effort by medical professionals around the world to give patients alternatives to drugs, in order to avoid side effects and improve cost efficiency”.
These days in the USA there are now doctors who prescribe the so-called “Nature Cure”. In a May 10, 2019 Outside magazine article by Aaron Reuben, he writes “Ask your doctor if nature is right for you.” Doctors have been encouraging their patients to go outside for millennia. Hippocrates called walking, ‘man’s best medicine’. Han dynasty physicians encouraged outdoor ‘frolicking exercises to ward off aging’. In the article the author says there is a reason to prescribe nature healing. “Scientists have discovered that exposure to nonthreatening natural stimuli, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress-hormones levels, promotes physical healing, bolsters immune-system function, raises self-esteem, improves mood, curtails the need for painkillers and reduces inflammation.”
According to a study published in the journal, Emotion, the kind of amazement we experience during outdoor activities has a singular ability to promote lower stress and higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction. The results of the study showed that the more awe participants reported experiencing, the better their self -reported wellbeing was and the lower their stress. Even insurers are getting into the act. In his article above, Reubens writes that a growing number of insurers are encouraging us all to spend more time outdoors. Dr. Chao-Ying Wu, a paediatrician in Bellingham, Washington, says “The environment of our original adaptation is all outdoors”.
In a blog in 2012 I explored the concept of similarities between hunters/gatherers and long distance cyclists. The blog was based on the idea that despite the many difficulties that participants face on gruelling, multi-month cycling tours, overall they not only persist in their efforts, but seem to thrive. Aaron Reuben’s article on The Nature Cure describes the case of a 65-year-old sociologist whose doctors warned him that his cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure were too high, putting him at risk for diabetes, heart disease and premature death. The doctors prescribed a good dose of nature treatment and apparently, it did wonders.
On the very first Tour d’Afrique in 2003, my older brother joined me at the midpoint of the ride in Nairobi. When he saw the range of ‘non athletes’ cycling every day, 100km and more, he decided to try a couple of half days. At that time he was 54 years old and taking pills for cholesterol and high blood pressure. After his experience on the tour he started working out, including regular cycling trips. He got rid of his pills and now when he joins me on a tour, I can’t keep up with him. He is 70 years old and has several long distance cycling tours under his belt.
So you sir, the one who just sold his business, and you madam, the one whose husband prefers traveling on a bicycle and you Mr. and Mrs. Parent, whose kids worry about you getting sick in distant lands – just tell them that your doctor prescribed a highly recommended and proven medicine for your ailments. It’s called a long cycling vacation. Looking at our participants, I can personally guarantee you that if you take this cure, you will have better, longer and healthier lives.