Happy World Bicycle Day everyone – I know I’m a couple of days late but it got me thinking about why I love cycling so much. My love of cycling goes well beyond just a form of exercise – it gives my life purpose. It also provides me with fitness, a social life and confidence.
When I first made this bold claim about six months ago (fittingly at the post-ride café stop) I thought I could be exaggerating a little but it sounded good. I’ve since decided that it’s not so bold after all and completely sums up how I feel about the pastime of cycling for me.
Health benefits of cycling
I’ve never been fitter and healthier than I am right now. 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 13 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 which now includes three or four rides each 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 like an anti-ageing strategy for me. Through cycling, I’ve managed to start enjoying 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.
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 30 years and it wasn’t until I joined local riding groups 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 were all shocked the first time we met in our normal clothes! We all come from different backgrounds but have one defining thing in common – we love cycling (and many of us also love red wine). A strong bond.
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 actually 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.
Even starting this blog is something I never would have dreamed of before I started riding. It’s all about confidence in yourself.