Well, given my adeptness in Florida on a bike, you may find this crazy, but... I bought a bike! Being on the bike (and even falling with it) brought back my old yearning for one.
I had used a bike during my childhood and into my teens, of course. And when I got divorced in the 1980's, I bought one and used if frequently after work (this was in Minnesota, so it obviously was NOT in the winter). I'd get on that baby and bike thru city streets for 30 to 45 minutes. Great for unwinding, for clearing out the mental cobwebs - not to mention the coincidental exercise. At that time, I was in good shape and the biking probably only contributed to that. When I left the townhouse that my ex-spouse and I had shared and moved to a southern suburb of Minneapolis, I took the bike with me and continued my biking habits - this time, it was usually on weekends.
Then I re-married in 1985. We were now living in Houston (I sold the bike before we moved here) and the weather was NOT conducive to bike-riding, most of the time. I tried to find a way to exercise, but the commute and everything else was not helping that. A coupla years ago, we joined L A Fitness. I loved the place, but as the enrollment increased, the wait for the machines got worse and worse. I was really chafed at the ones who would SIT on various exercise machines and chat (or worse, be on their cell phones!) - obviously they were there more for the social stuff and not trying to use the place as it was intended. I absolutely LOVED the elliptical machines - one of the most perfect things (IMHO) that you can do for indoor exercise. But we decided to halt our membership - too many things were eventually broken, including (several times) the heater on the indoor pool. Let me tell you: an unheated pool is merely a cold indoor "lake". Bah - had ENOUGH cold lakes in my past life in Minnesota!
Anyhoo: after having the trial run in FL, I had my appetite whetted for another bike. I talked with a friend of a friend, who gave me enough pointers to go shopping with. And so I became the proud owner of a Specialized Globe Caramel (not sure where this is manufactured) model. With a Shimano 21-speed geartrain (whatever that means!), it has twist-grip gears (recommended by the friend) and is pretty light-weight - frame is aluminum (also by recommendation). They had to get a small frame for me (the medium, even with the seat lowered, was too much for my short-y legs), and the bike has 26" tires - supposedly flat-resistant. Yes, I purchased and USE a helmet. Have had it out a few times for a spin - usually about 20 - 25 minutes at a time. Just using it on the suburban side streets, so far, where I live.
Now... Here's the kicker: I had my annual visit with the cardiologist on Friday and was telling him about the bike. He questioned just WHERE I was doing my bicycling, and when I told him, he relayed this (unfortunately true) story: he knows a married couple who are both doctors, and the husband is an oncologist at M D Anderson (a well-know Houston Medical Center hospital for cancer treatment and research). He was biking in THEIR suburban area one morning. A "soccer mom" (my cardiologist's wording) was driving home from running her son to soccer practice, fell asleep at the wheel of her SUV and ran OVER this man. He is now a paraplegic. He tried to tell me to invest in a bike rack for the car and to ONLY bike on bike paths/trails. Sorry, that will NOT be happening. I want to hop on the bike and just GO. Trust me, if anything at all, I am WAY too cautious.
The good news from seeing the cardiologist: he thought everything sounded good (I have an artificial heart valve), was very satisfied with my weight, my cholesterol numbers, etc. So I got out of there easy - just grabbed my prescriptions for the upcoming year and RAN for the door. Don't know if I have ever related my experiences with the cardiology community or not. The short story is that I have an artificial heart valve as the result of (1) having had rheumatic fever when I was 9; then (2) had several other bouts of strep infections which contributed to scar tissue on my mitral valve; then (3) had some stressful health incidents (the last was an awful bout of flu in 1987) which brought up the need for the valve replacement. That was done five years later, in 1992. I think I was the youngest patient on the post-operative floor of St. Luke's here in Houston at the time of my first open-heart surgery in 1987 (not the one where the valve was replaced) - I was 39 (looking even YOUNGER than that), and boy, did I draw second glances on THAT floor - both from other patients AND their visitors!
Anyway - enough about THAT. I confess that I have not YET taken the time to get a photo of the new "baby", but I did copy (and edit) said photo from some bike shop's internet site. Whatever it takes, guys.