Why Do I Love Cycling ?
I was watching a very good documentary on the TV the other night about Bradley Wiggins and his year in cycling and what a year it has been for him. When I watch programmes like this, especially in the winter it makes me yearn for summer days when I can get out on the bike and spend a few hours just pedalling.
It got me thinking about why I love cycling, what makes me do it and why. It is a really hard one for me to define because I’m not sure that there is just one element to it, I think for me there is a whole bunch of little things that come together that make me lean naturally towards cycling.
So I thought I would try and write down what makes me a cyclist and why I love cycling.
Firstly, my Dad, whom I wrote about earlier in the year and got such a great response from people about the blog (you can still read this blog if you go to the bottom of the home page and search for my Dad a cyclist) He was and still is a very keen cyclist and a very practical man. He instilled in me a love of the bike from an early age. He taught me how to fix a puncture, how to take a bike apart and more importantly how to put them back together again.
Once when I was about 12 years old I decided that I would re-spray my bike. I took it apart, did all the work I thought was needed and just had to do the finishing touches. A white panel on the down tube had been created so that I could name the bike with a transfer I had made up in Old English script. I put it on and it looked fab. The last job was to lacquer the frame. When I did this however the whole thing reacted with the paint and it looked like I had brushed it with paint stripper. I was devastated, all my work was ruined. I went to stay with my Nan for a few days after that in the holidays and when I came home my Dad had rebuilt and repainted my bike to a standard I could never hope to achieve. I was genuinely speechless and that memory has stayed with me ever since. So he is my first and biggest element to why I love bikes and cycling.
I think I am a bit of a tree hugger at heart, well I say I think, I know I am. When out in the country I will go up to a tree I like the look of and give it a hug. When I do this something is going on inside me. It makes me feel directly connected to the earth (and the tree obviously). So for me when I get out on the road on my bike I can feel like I am amongst nature in its purist form. Away from the main roads I can hear the wind in the trees. I notice things that I wouldn’t in a car because I’m not insulated inside a metal box on wheels. I hear birds singing, cows mooing and I think to myself what a wonderful world. I know that sounds a bit like the first draft of a Louis Armstrong song, but it’s true.
When I go to France to visit my Dad, I have spectacular scenery to look at when I ride. I love hill climbing so down there when I am riding above the tree line overlooking Lakes the colour of Turquoise with matching skies, the smell of the pine trees and the sun on my back I am so happy that I find myself talking out loud. I say to myself that I am lucky to be here now in this place doing something that I truly love. At that moment, even though I know I love it, I still can’t put into words exactly how it makes me feel, I just know that I am doing the best thing I could ever do for my soul at that point. The memories of rides like that stay with me forever and on days when it’s cold wet and windy I can transport myself back to the mountains of southern France.
I love the freedom you get when you have a few hours to spare, very precious in these days of our incredibly fast paced lives. It’s always great to get away from technology for a while and although I always take my phone with me just in case I need it, it’s in my pocket on my back and very rarely do I have to use it. When I ride I don’t have a set route. At the end of our road there is an old people’s home and in the garden stands a flagpole. As I pass, I look to see which way the flag is blowing and this kind of determines my route. I love finding new roads that I haven’t ridden before and the feeling that you’re the first one to have discovered such a brilliant place to ride.
Sometimes life can get on top of you a bit and when I first get out on the road I spend my time thinking about problems I may have. I try to work them out and with a clear head, I usually do but as the miles roll underneath me my problems and thoughts seem to vanish into thin air until it’s just me on a bike. When I start a ride the weight of the world can be on my shoulders, when I finish a ride I’m just happy and hungry.
It’s not all about being on the bike for me either. I love to watch it on telly and in the spring I can feel the anticipation building in me as the spring classics approach. The great one day events like the Paris- Roubaix and the Milan-Sanremo are compulsive viewing in our house. Then there is the arrival of the grand tours, Three weeks of a daily fix of cycling heaven. This year there was of course the added bonuses of The Olympics and the triumphs of Bradley Wiggins.
Cycling for me is also about the community of people who ride bikes. I think that we all share a common thread amongst us. Once you get bitten by the bug, cycling becomes part of who we are. I can’t think of one person I know that has stopped cycling once they have found it. Out on the road or on the tracks I talk and wave at people as I ride and mostly they are happy to chat for a while or just raise a hand in acknowledgement of a fellow cyclist. If I stop for a coffee where there are groups of cyclists, there is easiness in the atmosphere, I hear people’s gentle chatter and laughter in the air and I feel relaxed.
There is another element for me too. I am a bit geeky some may say. I love the engineering of bicycles. I could look at bikes or bike components for hours. There is such a mixture of simplicity, design and craftsmanship that I adore in bikes. I will look at frame welds, or lug work, the design of a set of brakes that look so smooth as if they have been sculpted by the wind. I love the detail and the lengths people will go to, to achieve the finishes of their bikes. I notice that some people like to keep their bikes completely original while others make changes so that they are personal to them. I think you can tell a lot about a person from their bike.
These are just a few of the elements in me that make me a cyclist. There are some other reasons why I like cycling too but I will save them for another time.
It would be great to hear from anyone who wants to tell everyone on the site about why they love cycling. You can do this on our forum, I’m sure you have some great memories or stories to tell.
You could win one of our t shirts for the best forum post of the month. You have to register on the site to enter and be a U.K resident. The best post will be judged on the 15th of each month and the winner will be contacted by email. Our shirts are 100% cotton and come in sizes S – XL.