I'm sure you realize that I'm getting out for a ride every chance I get these days. Far too soon cooler fall weather will curtail my exploring, but I'll get out as much as I can in this warm weather! I expect you feel a bit pleased for me that I can get out and about, but also think that a ride isn't as good as an actual walk.
I'm here to get you thinking differently.
I've been brought to the realization that a ride is almost as good as a walk simply because I feel so good when I return home. I feel refreshed and pleased with myself. I've successfully got myself out and about and enjoyed it. So what parts of a ride are the same as a walk?
Obviously I can't use the big muscles in my legs as you all do going for a walk. But I certainly use all my other senses, including some you probably don't think of.
Using my vision is probably the same as you going for a walk. Except that I have to look all around me, especially for traffic (and pedestrians on the downtown sidewalks) while you're just looking at your feet too much. My mind seems to absorb what I'm seeing too, even when I'm not consciously thinking about it. So I can later run down those streets remembering every corner and every building.
At the same time I'm really enjoying my surroundings while meeting people and getting to know them. I ask the women who serve me coffee for their names and memorize them, then I can be a little more friendly than average. I notice trees, houses, the water, and activities that are always a little different. I'm unconsciously memorizing the best paths on some roads to avoid the patches of crackly pavement (an engineer told me yesterday that those are called 'alligator cracks').
Vision is also the foundation of my sense of balance, of my spatial orientation to the world around me, and of safety. Some cracks on downtown sidewalks are big enough that I have to slow down to go over them. Downtown traffic light intersections demand special attention, both for my angle going down onto the road or back up onto the sidewalk, and for stupid drivers!
Hearing has also become much more important. I find I can hear cars coming behind me even at quite a long distance. Hearing prompts me to look to see the source of noises, and I guess I'm unconsciously assessing the safety risk every time.
I'm always alert to the sound of birds calling. Downtown they're dominated by the raucous calls of gulls at the harbour, but I even notice the twittering sparrows. And the other day I watched the shadows of a flock of pigeons fly back and forth across the main intersection. I doubt that most people even noticed.
The sense of spatial orientation is also always important. I always know where I am, both in relation to the longer route downtown and home again and to my immediate surroundings. You seem to develop a 'sixth sense' that helps you be aware of and assess everything around you.
I seem to retain my sense of balance pretty easily, but when going up and down hills (as I have to going downtown or coming home) I do adjust the tilt of my chair.
I get lots of fresh air when I'm moving. You be surprised at the breeze I generate moving along in the chair, faster than most people can walk. It's like going for an endless slow jog, but with no physical effort. Even on the hottest days I'm comfortable as long as I'm moving, or stop in the shade. And I should note that the shade of a tree is far cooler than the shade of a building.
Going for a ride is not merely a physical experience, but a sensory experience, just as going for a walk should be much more than just exercise. I interact with my environment, both maintaining my safety and accomplishing something. So to me going for a ride is much closer to going for a walk than I every initially thought possible.
Because I notice the small things, and have no-one I'm trying to keep up with, I might even argue that going for ride is better than going for a walk!