— H.G. Wells
Spring is here, and for a lot of us, this season begs us to get out on the bike. There are many joys we can all find in cycling. Here are a few of mine I thought would be worth sharing.
Nothing says Freedom like a bicycle. I first started riding for practical reasons, to get around town and to commute class. But riding gave me a sense of freedom and I was soon hooked. I rediscovered what I had learned with my first bike as a kid. As long as I was willing to keep turning the pedals, I could go anywhere. My freedom was in my control, both on and off the road. As you ride, can you find your freedom?
We strive for efficiency in our athletic form, cycling can deliver it other aspects of life as well. Studies show a high percentage of trips are less than 2 miles. For short trips a bike can be the quickest way door to door and you can always get the ‘rock star’ parking space at any destination. How many short car trips are actually fun and good for you?
It’s Simply Fun, Year Round
There is no bad weather, just insufficient gear. Decent gear will allow you to ride all year, in all conditions. Buy quality gear when you need it and it will last for years. As the gear accumulates, so do your options for being on the bike more and more. Think of the purchases as buying a little more joy and freedom. A great jacket that can last for decades is no more than a normal trip to the auto mechanic. As far as the cost of grown up toys go, bikes are still on the low end of the spectrum.
Safety and Responsibility can be Empowering
The only downside to cycling is that the cars still outnumber us. Take control and stack the odds in your favor. Obey the rules of the road, take responsibility to make your presence and intentions known to other, wear your helmet, wear your glasses, wear your gloves, carry ID, buy a Road-ID and wear it. A hand written sign on the wall at the Clean Machine years ago said it well, “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet”, value your noggin.
Keep Focus on the Important Things
Several years ago I decided to prioritize a singular goal for all of my training. I want to be able to ride my bike when I am 90. This goal helps with daily motivation to stay fit and active while encouraging smart decisions. Having a long term commitment has hopefully helped avoid many “in the moment” errors. I now have to ask my knee, hip, back, or whatever, “if I push you harder today, are you going to take 5 years from me later?”. The long term goal helps to make the smart choice today so I can continue to receive childlike joy from my bike for years to come.
Its been a great ride so far, here’s to many more, shall we all enjoy the ride together.
originally written for Endurance Magazine, May 2016