This weekend I’ll be pedaling 18 miles around Portland, OR, in the Worst Day of the Year Ride, a bike event scheduled for the weekend that has historically had the worst weather each year. I’m hoping for sun and temps in the 70s; it’s looking more like rain and snow in the 30s.
Sounds pretty miserable, right? So why do so many people sign up for this ride, and sporting events like it? To remind ourselves that bad weather isn’t a good enough reason to stay inside? To get out of our comfort zones? To check another box on the bucket list? Whatever the reason, if you register for a ride you’re bound to find like-minded souls out there, sweating and suffering right alongside you.
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When I have visitors to my (new) hometown of Portland, Oregon, they all want to go on the same sort of sightseeing tour—one that focuses on all of the delicious food available. So when my friend Beth arrived last week from Colorado I had all of my hot spots queued up: Pok Pok for its Asian Wings, Salt and Straw for its Salted Caramel Ice Cream, and Olympic Provisions for its killer brunch. But of all of the indulgences we shared, the one I was most worried about burning off was a large plate of biscuits and gravy from Portland’s J&M Cafe.
I did some searching online and found a big range for the calorie count in a serving of biscuits and gravy—estimates were anywhere between 200 and 530 calories. Judging from the flakiness of the biscuits, the size of the serving, and the sausage that was blended into the thick gravy, I’m going to guess the plate I ate was packed with about 450 calories. Eek!
Just how does one burn off a meal of that size? I grabbed a calculator—and the American College of Sports Medicine’s Compendium of Physical Activities—to find out. Here are three ways I could have burned off a 450 calorie breakfast of biscuits and gravy:
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One of the principles I was taught early on as a psychology student is “correlation is not causation”, which means that just because research finds trends does not mean that we can prove that one variable caused another.
A correlation has been reported of a higher percentage of the population that bikes to work in the cities considered the most fit in the US. Since biking to work requires regular physical exercise, it is not surprising that those that commute via bicycle increase the fitness quotient for their cities. Richard Florida also found correlations between those populations with a greater percentage of biking commuters and higher earnings, more creative jobs and fewer working class jobs, more diverse populations, and higher ratings of happiness.
Brian Cantrell, a web developer at Media Refined (parent company of DietsInReview.com), is an avid bicycle commuter who also mentioned happiness as a reason why he enjoys biking to work. “There are a lot of reasons I enjoy riding to work. The first is that I feel better when I get to work because I’ve got my blood pumping a bit so I really feel awake. I also like that you experience your city unmediated. When you are in a car you are traveling at a higher speed and there’s a wall between you and the neighborhoods you pass through so you don’t see much as you would on a bike. Lastly, I’m just happier when I’m active every day. I barely move while I’m at work and my eyes are always focused about two feet in front of me, definitely a sub-optimal situation, but I think cycling is the perfect antidote to it.”
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