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It's easy to go for a bike ride when you're bright-eyed and frisky, the weather's perfect and it's the beginning of a long weekend with no urgent chores or immediate plans.

For the rest of the time, try this.

Just ride for ten minutes. Anywhere. This will get you warmed up, and it makes it easy to get in the habit of riding your bicycle a few times a week. No matter how tired you are, or how cold it is, even if it's raining, you can handle ten minutes.

And the benefits of bike exercise, even for just ten minutes, are incredible. Research shows that a 10-minute bike ride can lift your mood. It's long enough to flood your system with endorphins that relieve pain and can give you a natural high that has been documented.

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If you happen to be really busy, you can still take a 10-minute bike break. Come on. I guarantee the rest of your day or evening will be a lot happier and more productive.

Over time this ten-minute ride can really tone you up. If you're biking to lose weight or lower your blood pressure, these baby steps will help you right away, and they'll psyche you up for longer rides. Pretty soon you'll be ready to ride you bike to work, do a long distance bike tour, or even tour southern Italy on a bike.

If you have time to read this, you've got time to go on a 10-minute bike ride. Seriously. Go for it.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and any health claims about the benefits of biking, bicycle fitness, or the amount of calories burned while biking have not been evaluated by a competent medical authority. You should consult with a physician before going on bike rides. Also be sure to obey all local traffic laws, unless you're really feeling ballsy, you're riding a fixed gear, or you work as a bike messenger. Don't drink and bike. Always wear a SNELL-approved helmet. You're probably going to die anyway, so don't sue me. I warned you.

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Last week I posted my first video ever on YouTube. It's about a bike trip up the California coast to visit my mom in Port Hueneme.

Anyway, there's a reason most people bust out laughing when they see it. I keep my helmet on, play up the dorky aspect of biking, and try on purpose to be a nerd.

Because biking is for everybody.

All the bike magazines are filled with pictures of supermodels. Even the non-profits like Adventure Cyclist feature bicyclists who have made it a lifestyle, and tend to be in great shape as a result.

Most of the bicycle media portray cyclists as ultra-healthy athletes, and there is some truth to this.

But it's enough to discourage a lot of "normal" people who would probably like to start riding, but say to themselves, "I'm too old/fat/weak/lazy/ to ride a bike."

But the truth is, you don't have to be an athlete to start biking. If anything, biking is one of the easiest and most fun ways of becoming more athletic. You start to see this happen pretty quickly once you get into it.

I had to start somewhere, we all did, and that's the whole point. You don't have to be an athlete just to start.

I was a nerd, back in the days before it became cool to be a nerd. Then I started bike touring, and my self confidence improved even faster than my physique.

But the quirky geek is still in there, so when I make a video about biking that's the role I'm going to play.

Now I have a request for you. If you're a biker, make a point to encourage people to ride who are especially insecure about their size, weight, or physical ability. Especially if you had to deal with those issues yourself at some point in your life.

If you like to show off, then start making videos. Here's mine:

By the way, if you've ever had an interest in touring Italy by bicycle, check out the touring Italy FAQs page: http://www.bicyclefreedom.com/?page_id=19