I started this cycling thing.. To become the exception.
I don't know where you all came from, your journey to becoming a cyclist, or what your turning point was. I am though, very happy you are here. You have made cycling down under awesome, and together we are on a journey. To become the rule, not the exception.
Just over 35 years ago I went for my first bike ride, not to the shops or school, but a ride with serious intent. A 10km circuit of rolling terrain in the west of Auckland. Considering the heavy steel 10 speed, this was a challenge of huge proportions, for a spindly legged teen. The intent? To ride as fast as I could. There was no Strava, power or heart rate, just shorts, sand shoes and a kid on a 10 speed.
I loved it, I was different, I was the exception. When all other kids were chasing footballs, or hitting cricket leather, I shaved my legs and disappeared on a bike for hours. I felt I was different.
A club was joined, and every afternoon and weekend was soon filled with total immersion, I was a cyclist. Weekends normally consisted of a Saturday race in the middle of nowhere, then Sunday spent with virtually every Auckland cyclist, meeting 8am, to roll the then quiet roads, for 4 to 5 hours. Looking back what surprises me most about that time, was that the only lycra hugging clad road warriors you would meet out whilst training, were the ones you raced with. No one rode for fitness, commuting or pleasure. There was no mountain biking, no triathlon, no fun rides.
Today when I roll out, occasionally my intent is the same as that very first ride, though often, it is to clear the head or redeem lifestyle sins. We all have our reasons for riding. But something has changed, I’m no longer the exception. What changed? I'm no longer the kid who picked a fringe sport, wore strange caps with the peaks up showcasing foreign brands. Whose first car was a Peugeot (as they made bikes) and whose dream travel location was a cobbled road in Belgium in miserable spring weather. Today I’m slowly becoming the rule. I am not alone!
I am sure recent tragedies, the well published and the just as wrenching not, continue to put you and your loved ones on notice for the continued risks we take. They break our hearts to read, and reach wider than just us who turn the pedals. I fear more for my friends and loved ones who ride, than I do myself, as I am sure we all do, and as your loved ones would for you. I just want everyone to come home safe. I no longer want to be the exception, I want to join all of you and become part of the rule.
Sometimes I wonder if there are too many of us to no longer be that random inconvenience, but not enough of us to be the rule for every motorist’s journey. We know its cultural, as other countries have shown us how it can be done, but culture can take time to build, and never evolves fast enough for us early adopters.
So, if you are reading this, I believe we are all still the early adopters, and together we must create the cultural evolution. That our numbers on the roads will lead to dedicated infrastructure, a shift in our community’s health and wellbeing, environmental gains and most importantly, how we are viewed and considered by fellow road users as we make these journeys. Lives saved.
With the recent events, I am desperate not to be the exception, I want to be the rule. The best way I know how is encourage everyone I know to join the cultural evolution, and become a cyclist. A commuter, a racer, a fitness lover, or just ride for the sheer pleasure. More cyclists, making more journeys. And lastly, I am going to ride as much as I can, as the riders we have lost no longer can. They loved what they were doing, so in my own way of showing respect is to not pass up any opportunity to ride, or take any ride for granted.
If I can, I am going to ride every day, because I love cycling.