Cycling is an epidemic. It’s fast moving, grossly competitive and there’s plenty of toys to buy. All the qualities we enjoy in a hobby. Road cycling, in particular, is now so common that the brave who step into a pair of lycra knicks for a Saturday morning ride are familiar with a bit of a ‘have or have-not’ status. While cycling has spent a bit of time in the media and spotlight lately for the wrong reasons, such as Duncan’s bells & whistles, I’d like to start this blog by touching on a few reasons why I, like 3.6 million other Australians, ride my bike.
Coming from a predominantly team-sport upbringing, in my early 20’s cycling rapidly began taking up all my extra time. Like most born-again cyclists, I quickly got the buzz and before I knew it I was signing up for every ride, race or event I could get to. What is it about this sport that changes your attitude towards things? What is it that gives you the discipline to skip beers with your mates on a Friday night just so you can get a solid night’s sleep before a 4-hour slaughter fest on Saturday morning?
Firstly, cycling is individual, yet an experience shared equally among peers. You can’t all reflect on that same amazing ‘down-the-line’ forehand after a tennis match, but you can all share the same experience in that sprint, on that climb or down that descent, as you sit in the cafe in lycra, salt smeared across your cheeks like war-paint, trading stories of valour from the morning’s ride.
Why I Ride
Cycling can provide knowledge and wisdom for other parts of your life. Metaphorically cycling has helped me in many different life situations. It can be as simple as understanding that if you want to do something well it’s better not to rush it, but to be patient and wait for the right opportunities.
Or more importantly in times of difficulty and tough decisions. Without mortgages, careers and dependents, most teens and young adults will (hopefully) have not had too many times of great difficulty in their life. On the bike, it’s a different story. Miss the winning breakaway move on your Saturday morning club race and your life may as well be over (at least for about 2 or 3 minutes). The beauty of cycling is in what happens next. Give up, and you’ll never know what you could have achieved that day. Keep fighting, and you’ll always take something home with you. It could be the race win, it could the respect from your competitors, or it could be a new found confidence in your own ability to keep going when the cards are stacked against you.
My personal favourite is the stubborn confidence it gives you to keep going and hold the wheel in front you, knowing that how hard it might be at that time, any slight change in wind, gradient or pace could be enough for you to come good again. This persistence through hard times can teach you a great thing or two about life. A friend told me a great story about a girl he once dated who wanted him to give her more attention. She started acting flirty in front of other guys to see how he responded and then confronted him about it when it became obvious that he wasn’t bothered. He responded, “Babe, you don’t understand, I’ve held the wheel before. I’ve held the wheel for 100km in a break-away in freezing, wet conditions, with bad legs. I know what real pain is.” Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t last.
And fittingly, it is the state of play. In ‘that’ moment, 100km into a breakaway with screaming legs, you are completely immersed in the task and not thinking about anything else. The rest of the week you are a builder, a student, an accountant, but come Saturday morning all you are thinking about is making it over the climb in the bunch so that you’re not riding the rest of the National Park on your own.
At Lifecycles Travel, we’re all about the right ingredients for a balanced lifestyle. Why not start by going for a ride.