poetry and prose about place

biking log book – places I have never seen #1

with 20 comments

This will seem a bit strange, but I am trying a new strategy to get myself on my exercise bike at least three times a week.

I am lucky to have a good quality recumbent bike to use.  I have the tiniest exercise room, located in our basement.  It is basically a large open closet that fits my bike and a small table for a clock and other items.  I finished the walls in stucco and have a wall shelf to put photos and art to look at as I bike.

I know biking is good for me, especially in the winter when it is harder to get outside on some days.  However, getting myself down to my exercise room is harder than it sounds.  I invent all kinds of excuses not to go.  Often, the end of the day comes and I ‘discover’ I have skipped yet another day of exercise.

In January, I began to work on a new plan for encouraging biking.  You will quickly note that making the plan and preparing takes a lot more time than doing the actual exercise.  Although this may be another form of procrastination, the time I spend serves other purposes.  I learn about new places, I practice my drawing skills, and I don’t mindlessly watch TV and eat if I am busy working on my plan.

The plan is this.  When I bike, I pretend I am riding my bike through the countryside of some place I have never been.  There are bikes that actually have this feature built-in (just Google ‘exercise bike with google maps’), but I am using an old-fashioned approach.

I select a place and print out a scaled map with a 10 or 15 km distance to travel.  Then I go on Google Earth and ‘travel’ the road on the computer, using Street View to have a look at places along the way.  I print off some of the more interesting views so I will have an idea how the countryside appears.  Then I glue maps and images into a notebook and plot my progress on the map.  Each 10 minutes on my exercise bike equals approximately one kilometer on the map.  I use small stickers to mark my progress.  After I have ridden through an area, I  can use the views as  source material for drawing in my sketch book.

notebook with route outlinedDSCF8696_crop


My first virtual bike ride has been through the Poitiers area of France.  This is in the Poitou-Charentes Region of western France, south-west of Paris.  I selected this area because a few years ago I worked with a woman from Poitiers and her descriptions of the area made it sound so interesting.  She also gave me some brochures and other tourist materials that featured the beauty of the countryside and some of the local history.  I have never been to Europe, so this is quite a learning for me.  To start, I have selected a road from Lusignan, France to Sanxay, France, a total distance of about 14 km.  At 10 minutes per km, this will take me 140 minutes or more of biking (about seven biking sessions).

from Lusignan to Sanxay, France

‘MapQuest’ map showing route from Lusignan (A), France to Sanxay (B), France


From Street View, I can tell that this is a very rural area.  The road passes by farms and connects small communities.  Most of the scenes in Street View in this area were taken in the spring, so trees are in blossom but not yet in leaf.  There are sheep in the pastures and the houses are roofed with clay tiles.  Many houses have small kitchen gardens and are bounded by low rock walls.  At the intersection of major roads, there are frequently shrines, including crucifixes and statues of Saints.


Log Book:  January 30, 2013

Area travelled:  from ‘just north-west of Lusignan’ to ‘intersection with road to Mongadon’

Distance:  20 minutes      1.2 km

Best view:  gate to ‘le Muranit’ near Lusignan

Notes:  It took longer to cover this stretch of road because I kept getting off the bike to see the sights …


'gate near Lusignan'


Please come back often, as I plan to update my Log Book each time I bike.


Copyright Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

February 6, 2013 at 7:29 am

20 Responses

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  1. Love the whole story….your artwork is amazing, I felt like I was
    actually there.


    Cecile hebert

    March 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    • Hi. Glad you like it. I love doing the sketches so I am glad you like them! Jane


      jane tims

      March 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

  2. I love this idea, Jane. What a great way to combine exercise with arm-chair traveling and art. 🙂



    February 20, 2013 at 11:04 am

    • Hi Robin. It has really motivated me to get exercising and I notice my strength improving (knee problems). I look forward to drawing at the end of each bike trip and I am building quite a collection of scenes of the French countryside. Jane


      jane tims

      February 20, 2013 at 8:22 pm

  3. Fabulous idea – especially combining it with some art!



    February 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

    • Hi Diana. Thanks. I look forward to doing the drawing as soon as I finish my bike ride for the day. Jane


      jane tims

      February 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

  4. Hi Jane .. as you can see from the responses to this post and all the “likes”, I think you may have found the uniqueness that sets this creative idea apart from all the rest. Stick to it.




    February 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

  5. Jane, I absolutely love this. Even if it doesn’t work, the planning part sounds like so much fun!!


    Jane Fritz

    February 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    • Hi. It will work for a while, at least. I am hoping it sticks around for a while as a means of motivation. Jane


      jane tims

      February 7, 2013 at 11:40 am

  6. What a pretty drawing, Jane! I’m impressed with the originality of the idea and effort you are putting forth to entice yourself down to your exercise bike. I have a treadmill in the basement and what usually motivates me is listening to energetic music from one of my iPod playlists. It makes the time fly, but my biggest obstacle to walking regularly is that it is cold down there!!!


    Barbara Rodgers

    February 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    • Hi. Putting our exercise in the basement is a major flaw I think. However, now that I have fixed up my little room, I am determined to go into the dungeon three times a week!!!! Jane


      jane tims

      February 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

  7. This is an amazing idea! Not only are you planning to exercise your body, but your mind also gets a work out ahead of time. watching tv while exercising doesn’t allow for a mindful workout. your mind is not presently in the moment so the activity is not as enjoyable as when your imagination is drives you. Good for you!



    February 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    • Hi. Thanks. It is useful on so many levels! Imagination is a key ingredient! Jane


      jane tims

      February 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

  8. Wow! I love the idea and I think it’s great that you are doing it! Keep up the good work!


    Jennifer Tisa

    February 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    • Hi Jenn. It can’t compare to really seeing the world. I also note a 35 mile real hike in your life. Much better exercise! Jane


      jane tims

      February 7, 2013 at 11:37 am

  9. What a great idea. I also bike indoors in the winter. I just read books while I bike. This sounds like much more fun.


    Northern Narratives

    February 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    • Hi. Reading books is a great way to pass the time as well. This adds an incentive and shows progress. Jane


      jane tims

      February 7, 2013 at 11:36 am

  10. I think this is a fabulous idea. I know lots of folks who watch TV while exercising indoors, but this idea…well, it’s so much more imaginative and thoughtful and nourishing…a great source of material for drawing, for writing as well as for keeping fit. And a way to avoid the slush and ice underfoot, the dangers of walking in rural NB in winter. I love the way your mind works.


    Carol Steel

    February 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

    • Hi Carol. So far, so good. The concept is encouraging me to bike for longer also. I think a big part of the idea might be the plan to post my progress. Jane


      jane tims

      February 6, 2013 at 10:10 am

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