Friday, July 15, 2011

Celebrating being in motion

Twenty or thirty years ago, the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival that's under way this week would have been an ordinary gathering of people in a mountain town with the same intense interest in a sport.

In the age of computers and technology, the festival and the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championships are much more than that. They are a stark contrast with the direction the rest of America is heading with growing levels of inactivity, obesity and disease.

The events are outside in the middle of the paradise that is Central Idaho with its blue skies and snow-capped peaks in the distance. They're removed from the computer-clogged workplaces that have made computers' blessings a curse in that while they make work more efficient, they keep bodies that were made to move chained to soft chairs. Computer operators don't bend or lift or walk or stand. Neither do today's kids, who are glued to electronic games, online videos and social-media posts.

All of this inactivity isn't good for us.

The Industrial Revolution poisoned the air, fouled the water and maimed workers. The Computer Revolution is doing its own less violent and more insidious maiming that is harming us in equal measure.

More than one in four adults in two-thirds of the states are obese, according to a report issued by the Trust for America's Health, a nonpartisan group, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That puts every fourth person at high risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke—all major killers that cut lives short.

The Bike Festival celebrates the cure for much of what ails our computerized society. It celebrates both the necessity and joy of using the human body, a clever machine in its own right, to power gears perched on wheels—perhaps the most significant invention ever to spring from the mind of man.

The events require a high level of physical fitness and mental concentration from participants. Anyone who's ripped down a steep trail or struggled to the top of a ridge knows the exhilaration of achievement. And, good thing for the rest of us, that exhilaration isn't the exclusive province of elite athletes.

The Bike Festival is what the Sun Valley area is about—a place where people may explore critical connections between mind and body and find ways to balance them in order to live a satisfying life.

It's not just everywhere someone can walk out the door and connect with fabulous and extensive mountain trails. That is an experience exclusive to those who seek it out.

Welcome to everyone who's here to compete. You inspire the rest of us to enjoy and to celebrate being in motion.

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