"Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

One of my earliest and most treasured childhood memories was receiving a shiny red bicycle for my birthday when I was eight years old. The joy, freedom and adventure that this bike brought into my life was unprecedented. I could jump curbs, set up ramps, skid and in my mind, basically fly. I created bike gangs with my fellow friends and we roamed far and wide. I never remember being tired or bored. If I had permission, I was on a bike exploring all the uncharted neighborhood territory.

That initial love of bicycling has stayed with me in different forms for my whole life.

When I was in college, I decided to ride my old Cannondale mountain bike 110 miles from San Angelo to Blanket, Texas; alone and at night none-the-less. It took me nine hours, three PB&j sandwiches, lots of water and one tire change. When I made it to Brownwood the sun was just starting to rise. The last ten miles between Brownwood and Blanket was a series of hills and they tested every bit of strength I had. It was the first time that I had ever hallucinated from exercise. Once I made it to my parents house I collapsed on the floor and let the endorphins surge through my body. A new type of confidence and strength filled me the next week after the ride. I felt like I could do anything and my body felt amazing.

Last week we had the first community bike ride here in Stephenville. Eighteen people from all different backgrounds showed up to ride. The six mile loop started at Barefoot Market and took us down Long St. to the city park. We then connected to the beautiful new bike path along the river. We came back through the Tarleton campus and created our own little impromptu bike parade as we passed through throngs of students. Perhaps seeing groups of people on bikes will inspire the student body to find creative solutions to the parking problems at Tarleton. 

When you are on a bike you are burning calories, getting sunshine, breathing fresh air and not spending a dime on gas. When you arrive at your destination you feel pumped and ready for the day. Biking is a very simple and enjoyable activity that you can include in your daily life. 

Imagine yourself flying around town with the wind whipping through your hair. Your body becoming tight and lean as you get into shape. A new sense of optimism and confidence surging into your life. Now hop on a bike and let the fun begin!

Paul Risse is a raw foods chef, expert in the health industry and member of the E-T's community columnists.