"Wheel Life," a cycling column published weekly in the Times Colonist Newspaper (Victoria, BC)

by Todd Litman/Suzanne Kort

October 9, 1999


Salvation by Bicycle

Listen up miscreants and malefactors. Today we discuss the seven deadly sins as they apply to cycling.



Oh, glorious sloth! You neednít wait for judgment day to suffer from this sin. Most North Americans are less active and heavier than optimal, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and depression. It makes us less attractive in a bathing suit, too.

Our lazy travel habits are an important contributor to this growing sloth. Automobiles are tools of the devil! Exercise can be your Exorcist. Chase Satan away by cycling and walking rather than driving.

Years ago health experts recommended a strict schedule of aerobic exercise that involved hard work, high pulse rate and sweat. Their motto was, "No pain, no gain." The message has changed. We now know that any moderate physical activity provides health benefits. The optimum is at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but every bit helps. Even a few minutes of movement is better than none.

Exercise doesnít need to occur all at once. "Snacktivity" is the term some health advocates use to describe little bits of exercise, such as a walk during a work break or a short game of tag with your children. Make it frequent and keep it fun.

If you havenít done it yet this year, hereís a holy task: take your bicycle into your bikeshop for a mechanical checkup and installation of fenders and lights. Use money you would otherwise spend on your car to purchase winter cycling gear, including rain jacket, earmuffs and long-fingered gloves.

Now youíre ready to leave the devil behind. Oh, doesnít your halo look bright!



Good news on this one. Physical activity offsets gluttony. Sweets are not sinful if you exercise. The calories put pressure on your soles, not your soul. You can feel angelic stuffing yourself with devilís food cake, as long as you cycle to the bakery Ė using a long route.



We may be guilty of this. Itís difficult NOT to feel proud of cycling. But donít rub it in. Just because you feel superior doesnít mean that you should smirk at wayward souls in automobiles. If you feel smug, keep it too yourself. Perhaps theyíll be enlightened by your inspiring example.



Cyclists may envy others who have better bikes, legs, weather or holiday trips. OK, feel the envy and let it pass. Learn to be content with what youíve gotÖor find a way to get what you want. Which leads use to the next sin.



Cyclists are seldom guilty of avarice. After all, a high quality bicycle costs a fraction of the cheapest new car. You can buy a new bike and cycling wardrobe for what motorists pay just for insurance. As long as you only buy ONE new bike each year, youíve probably got avarice under control.



Is this ALWAYS a sin? Surely not with what we put up with: poor road conditions, crowded trails, inconsiderate drivers, mechanical problems, weather. It tests the patience of Job! But we can turn this sin into salvation and help create heaven on earth. Channel your anger into positive action. Next time you see a barrier or danger to cycling donít just get angry, get on the phone and call your city councilor, public works department or police department and report it.



Are cyclists a lusty bunch? Why else do we wear such revealing shorts! We are passionate (about the open road). Our appetites are copious (especially after a hard ride). We have cravings (for a good meal, hot shower, and a soft bed).

As a happily married couple with two children we think lust is a good thing, provided itís for each other. Between work, children, writing, errands, housekeeping, and cycling we often have insufficient energy left for lust. If only we could commit this sin more often!