The Benefits of Biking

I’ve been riding my bicycle a lot, as I mentioned in my last post. Riding here in Panama is different than in the US. Many people have bikes as their main mode of transportation so there are always bikes in the road. People also walk a lot, so the cars are used to sharing the road and are much more considerate of bikers and pedestrians. I avoid a few high traffic areas and the Pan-American highway that has no shoulders or extra space for bikes, but generally I feel like I can go anywhere I want.

People here are very outgoing and friendly. I’m always greeted by numerous people and I’ve made some nice friends. Many want to practice their English so I’m less startled now by an English greeting when I’m expecting Spanish. I’ve learned my way around town more and have found a number of interesting shops and businesses. A post will be coming soon about the guys who hand made the new tables in my living room.

Of course, I always have a camera. Unfortunately the screen in my handy little video camera died, but Joel was nice enough to give me his little Kodak and that seems to be working out well. My favorite routes are to ride through town and then south or southwest towards La Barqueta.

Biking works well for me. It’s fun and doesn’t bother my knees. But, the benefits have gone beyond exercise. I love being outdoors, I love being out with people and seeing what is going on around town, I love getting to know the town better and finding things I wouldn’t know about otherwise, and I love being out in the countryside where its so beautiful.

I’m retired and I have the time, so there is no excuse for neglecting my priorities. Health and well being are very important because I have things to DO! I’ll be able to do a lot more for a lot longer if I’m strong and healthy. I also believe that having a good sense of community, friends, and family (adopted and honorary family counts too) is important for good health and a positive outlook. So, for me, biking has worked out even better than I expected.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in Exploring the Area, Panama, photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to The Benefits of Biking

  1. Linda Y says:

    Oh I love to bike too! I had a feeling Panama would be excellent for biking. It slows us down and brings us closer to others and nature. The wind in my hair on a bike always makes me feel like a kid again.
    Once I rode my bike from eugene oregon to San Francisco. Took seven days, but I was in heaven.
    It is a wonderful way to meet others.
    Thanks for the fun post Kris. And the photos are wonderful!
    Bike on!
    🙂
    Linda

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    • Oh wow, a week bike trip! That sounds fantastic. I’d love to do something like that. I don’t know about long distance travel in Panama since the highway is the main route through the country and not only is it crowded, but much of it is under construction. When it’s done though it will be 4 lane and if it has nice shoulders, it will be fantastic.

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      • Linda says:

        It WAS a wonderful trip. So great in fact, that I did another one with friends later on, a six day trip Eugene to Victoria BC. Six days. Loved it so much. The highway where you are will be wonderful once those shoulders get in. How are the back roads? I imagine the early morning rides are delightful.

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        • The back roads are generally very good, though most don’t have shoulders so the traffic has to go around you. That’s fine though if there isn’t a lot of traffic. My favorite road so far is between David and La Barqueta through the countryside and farms.
          Your experiences inspire me to keep at it, and who knows. Maybe I’ll do something like that too!

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          • Linda says:

            Oh I hope you do get to do an extended trip one day. So wonderful to have everything you need with you, camping along the way. Such a great way to see the countryside. The trip between David and La Barqueta sounds nice! xx

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            • Hmmm, didn’t think about the camping part…. old… like to sleep in a bed… but you never know!

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              • Anonymous says:

                Or staying in cute little places along the way … Haha
                I know what you mean about the ‘getting older’ part. Camping is not as easy for me as it used to be 🙂

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  2. 4sarge says:

    I love to bike but concerned about the Heat & the Sun. Are you now Immune since being there for several years or do you exercise restraint. I can see early morning or evening rides pre dark in my future.

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    • I ride in the morning and it’s still hot but I don’t mind sweating. I bring plenty of water, and I have good shirts that have sun protection and are made for hot weather. I also wear sunscreen. Thankfully after a year and a half here I’m tanned enough that I don’t burn as fast as I used to. Evening ride are fine in the dry season but in the rainy season you may get rained out a lot.

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  3. tombseekers says:

    One of the things I am really looking forward to is getting my bike as part of our container shipment – probably in about 2 months. I will ride to your house – 36 km away. Sounds impressive until people realize it’s all downhill to your house and David will be driving me and my bike back up the mountain. It’s such a great way of seeing the town!

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    • That would be a blast riding all the way down from Boquete! I should do that sometime. Just be sure your brakes are in good shape 😀 I’ve gone uphill but only made it as far as Los Algarrobos.

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  4. Loca Gringa says:

    I’m envious!

    One, the mountainous terrain around me … I’ld never have the lung capacity.
    And, two, I envy that you are safe in your cycling.
    a) Other vehicles clearly respect your right to safety and life … not here!
    b) That you are clearly unconcerned about being robbed … again not here!

    I miss my bike!

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    • Robbed? That never crossed my mind. They wouldn’t get much from me. I only carry a bit of change for emergencies and an old camera that isn’t valuable.
      People here are generally very respectful of each other and it’s the same on the roads.
      We have plenty of mountains if I head north! Thankfully i also have the option to head south where it’s fairly flat. I go uphill once in a while though just for the exercise.

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      • Loca Gringa says:

        Here, we have so many outlaws. They steal everything including the bike you’re on. And with machetes!

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        • Wow! I wouldn’t want to have to live with that fear every day. Here, I think if I ran into trouble of any sort out on a public street, everyone would be running over to help. People sometimes have problems here but mostly people breaking into houses when they think they won’t be seen. I can’t imagine being robbed in broad daylight in public.

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  5. Karen Ama Panama says:

    We are also considering El Valle and it looks like a lot of people ride bikes there too. Growing up in Madison, WI, biking was my main form of transportation when I was younger. I’m really looking forward to biking again.

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    • That’s good! I haven’t been to El Valle yet so I don’t know what its like there. I thought it was in the mountains but maybe there are good roads without too much climbing. Or, maybe the climbing is part of the fun.

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      • Karen Ama Panama says:

        It is 30 minutes north of Coronado in the crater of a volcano. We plan on checking it out on our next visit. It looks beautiful and we love the mountains but the ocean is close by too. I think the road is good just winding. We will find out soon!

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        • I thought about visiting on my last time through the area but we had too many other things going on. From what I have heard it’s really beautiful, and a lot of people from Panama City use it as a getaway. I’ll make it there one of these days.

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  6. allison says:

    I doubt you would want to ride bikes on the road to and from El Valle (not a lot of room for two cars, let alone bikes with them), but in the town would be wonderful. Ray and I have often thought that we will get bikes once in Panama, especially if we find a place to rent in El Valle. There are hills there for a challenge around the center or crater as some would call it, but I would not be biking on the main road to the town. Nope, not for me 🙂

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  7. Anonymous says:

    OK Kris, your in big trouble 🙂 I could not find La Barqueta on my map(s). Los Algarrobos, si. S. S.W. of David? Where does Loca Gringa live? As an ex Detroiter, 1.2 million of us knew when it was time to leave. Charleston, S.C. David.

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    • La Barqueta is the beach southwest of David. Maybe you can find the Las Olas beach resort? It’s there too.
      Los Algarrobos is north of David on the way to Boquete, part way to Dolega.
      Loca Gringa lives in the Dominican Republic.

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