The first time I wrote about how cycling has changed my life was 11 years ago when I had only been blogging for about four months, but when I review it, it’s still true. To republish it I’ve updated a few things. That’s not to say that I haven’t developed as a person or a cyclist in the past 11 years, it’s that cycling is such a big part of who I am.
A wonderful benefit of writing this blog is that it leads me to meet some wonderful women (most of the time only via email and phone) and hear how cycling has had an impact on their lives. Women often describe cycling in terms of their whole life rather than just as a form of exercise or a way to meet new people.
There are fundamentally three ways cycling has changed my life:
During the past 14 years, I’ve never been fitter and healthier. Cycling has played a large role in my health and fitness. I do also jog a little and attend a weekly personal training session, but I see those as supplementary to my cycling. When I took up cycling 14 years ago, I rode once a week on Saturday morning which was a distance of about 35 km (I still do the same ride every Saturday).
As my interest grew so did my mileage and over those years has grown to three or four rides per week with a total of about 120 km per week. Most of my rides are with friends but sometimes if there’s no one going out I’ll venture out on my own and I quite enjoy the solitude.
I see exercise as an investment in a long and healthy life. It’s an anti-ageing strategy for me. Through cycling, I enjoy exercise and even look forward to it. There’s nothing as satisfying as that total physical exhaustion feeling when you fall into bed at night for a sound sleep.
Social life and friendship
I have lots of wonderful friends who I’ve accumulated over the years through school, uni and work and I treasure them all, but it was not until I took up cycling that I found friends in my local community.
I’ve lived in the same house for over 30 years, and it wasn’t until I started riding that I met any other locals other than my neighbours and local suppliers like my personal trainer and hairdresser. It didn’t mean that we didn’t have a social life, it meant that we socialised outside our local area with friends who we’d met from various parts of our lives.
I can’t count how many locals I now know as a result of various cycling activities. At first, I only saw them when we rode together but over time this has grown to lots of social events outside cycling. We all come from different backgrounds but have one defining thing in common – we love cycling. A strong bond.
Many of these relationships have become enduring friendships.
This third reason is a bit more ‘deep and meaningful’ but cycling has given me more confidence in myself and this has rippled through other aspects of my life.
Every step I’ve taken in cycling has raised the bar for me. The first step was buying the bike, the second was completing that first 80 km charity ride, the next was riding in a bunch, the next was club racing, the next was riding a track bike on the velodrome and I’m sure there are other defining moments I’ve left out.
You’ve probably worked out by now that I’m not a risk-taking (all those personality profile things you do at work back this up) so for me, these steps have been major. I’ll never go sky-diving or bungee jumping, so I find my own equivalents on the bike. I suppose it’s that old adage about conquering fears, it resonates beyond the actual act of leaping out of that perfectly good aeroplane.
Thank you to everyone who has had a part in getting me this far with my cycling – who knows where it will lead in the future.