adventures in biking

Courtney Takabayashi
October 17, 2023

It’s a rite of passage for some. For others, it’s a mode of transportation. But for Chris Halsall, it’s the perfect activity for exercise and adventure. Welcome to the world of bicycling.

As an HMSA sales operations supervisor, Halsall spends most of his day in the office. But when the workday is over, he replaces his dress shirt and slacks with full-body bike gear and hits the trail.

Halsall enjoying nature.

Love at first ride
Though Halsall received a bike as a child, it wasn’t until he was 7 years old when he rode it for the first time. “I had to grow into the bike since it was too big,” he says. “But once I was big enough, my dad took me to a school parking lot to ‘teach’ me how to ride it.” At first, they took it slow as Halsall practiced balancing and steering with his dad walking along, holding the back of the bike. And then, Dad let go. “I was too shocked to be scared,” Halsall says. “And then something clicked and I took off. I felt so free.”

Learning on the job
After graduating from college, Halsall wasn’t sure what his next steps were. On a whim, he decided to visit some friends who worked at longtime Honolulu business, McCully Bicycle & Sporting Goods. “I asked them if they needed any help,” he says. “They did, so I jumped right in.” He worked at McCully Bike for years. “I enjoyed being around bikes and gear and learning about the industry,” Halsall says. “Plus, I really liked the people I worked with.”

Finding community
After work and on his days off, Halsall went on rides with his McCully Bike co-workers or store regulars. “We had a guy working with us who moved from Ohio to Hawaii just so he could surf and bike,” he says. “Even though he moved away, we still keep in touch and he’s been meeting up with us at our mountain bike trips.”

Halsall rides down a mountain in Whistler. Photo courtesy Chris Halsall.

The bike group regularly visited Whistler, a town north of Vancouver, British Columbia. Though Whistler is known for skiing, it’s also a popular destination for mountain bikers. “I always looked forward to our fall trips to Whistler,” Halsall says. “We biked, ate, slept, and biked some more. Those were good times.”

Halsall’s bike group takes a break on a trail in Whistler. Photo courtesy Chris Halsall.

Reaping the benefits
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. Biking is a great way to get those minutes in, especially for Halsall. “Biking helps me stay active and improves stamina and muscle coordination,” he says. “It also allows me to clear my head and work through things.” He also enjoys tinkering with bikes, taking them apart, and reassembling them. “Biking really is good for my health and well-being,” he says. “Plus, I’ve accumulated a mean collection of socks.”

Keeping safe
As a mountain biker who usually rides on trails, Halsall knows the importance of safety and being prepared. “It’s crucial to know how to change a flat and always carry a spare tube and pump,” he says. “And wearing a helmet is vital.”

In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommends the following for safe bicycling:

  • Be sure your helmet fits correctly. While wearing a helmet is important, it’s equally important to make sure the helmet fits your head correctly.
  • Ride an appropriately sized bike in good working condition. If a bike is too big for you, it’s harder to control. Remember to test the brakes before heading out.
  • Wear clothing that makes you visible. Wear bright clothing during the day. At night or when visibility is poor, wear reflective gear, attach a white light to the front of your bike, a red light to the rear, and reflectors on the sides and rear.
  • Keep it together. Carry water, snacks, etc., in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
  • Tuck and tie. To keep them from getting caught in the chain, tuck and tie your shoelaces and pant legs.
  • Drive defensively. Ride in the same direction as traffic, obey street signs, and remember to signal. Look for hazards or situations that may cause you to fall, like pebbles, potholes, and grates.
  • Pay attention. Don’t text, listen to music, or do anything that could distract you.

It’s never too late
If you’re an adult who didn’t grow up biking or if you feel nervous about riding again, it’s OK! “Focus on the fun of biking instead of the exercise,” Halsall says. “It’s an adventure!” After finding a bike that’s in good shape and fits you, he suggests going to a park and riding on the grass. “Parks tend to be safer and less intimidating than trying to ride on the road,” he says. “Like anything worthwhile, it takes practice. So get out there, be safe, and have fun.”

On the trail
Check out our video of Halsall showing off his biking moves! 

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