Jan shared a story with me yesterday that has touched me in a big way. It’s about a 90 year old woman in Chile named Elena Galvez. Ms. Galvez bicycles every day, and not just around the block. She rides 30 kilometers, which is roughly the equivalent of 18 miles. Let’s say she does this six days a week. That’s a little over 100 miles a week…5,000 miles a year.
Ms. Galvez really has no choice. She raises chickens and uses her bicycle to take the eggs to market. This is how she carves out an existence in a world that a lot of first worlders probably couldn’t get their arms around if they tried. It’s not necessarily pretty.
But it’s not terrible, either. I watched a couple of YouTube videos about Ms. Galvez before posting this and although she clearly lives in poverty and with a certain amount of squalor, she seems happy, content and pretty healthy for a 90 year old. She used to walk her eggs to market but the stress of walking was hard on her frail body. Bicycling, not so much. Such is the power of a bicycle.
Years ago I read the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It’s a fabulous read that tells the story of the Tarahumara in Mexico. In it, McDougall quotes Adams State (Colorado) cross country coaching legend Joe Vigil. Vigil says that to stay healthy you have to eat like a poor person. Vigil’s right, but you also have to move like a poor person.
Bicycles matter in so many ways. To someone like Ms. Galvez, they are a lifeline. To the rest of us, they are a pathway to health, longevity and a better quality of life.