Why do I ride? I know why, it’s simple.
I’m going to use a word here, that may hook you in to read the rest of this blog, or have you running from the page. Play.
When I was under the age of 10, riding around to a mate’s house, and asking them if they could come out and play, was totally acceptable. As time went on, teenage coolness and adult seriousness removed the word but not the urge. I love to play, if not more than ever. You are never too old, I can’t get enough. Now the play dates are organised on Facebook or have regular times, but they still involve a bike.
Riding a bike with mates was always fun. Hooning through puddles, doing skids until Dad told you off for burning through tyres and the rubber deposits on the driveway, riding no hands, wheelies, doubling and jumps, or simply showing you were faster. What’s changed? Absolutely nothing. I can’t wait to get on my bike, ride some dirt, ride some roads, hang with mates, meet some new ones, and play on bikes. Then when it’s all done, I enjoy caring for my gear. Don’t take it the wrong way, but I really form an attachment with my bikes, we do this cycling lifestyle together.
Now, I certainly don’t want to diminish your efforts and accomplishments, those hard-earned trophies and finisher medals, the laying down of Watt Bombs and Strava segments. But seriously amongst all that commitment and dedication, how much fun were you having with likeminded people? Bucket loads!
Nothing beats playing on bikes. From the wonderful places they take us, to the adventures, goal setting and achievements, to the absolute sheer pleasure of such a simple, yet complex machine. The evolution of the bike, as with most things, is exceptional; the core of the ride is unchanged.
I once read, that the secret of cycling success was to train the muscle movement with repetition, until it becomes habit, as familiar as walking. As simple as it sounds, that’s what we do, with different loads over various distances, working towards our desired outcomes. At times, the magnitude of the effort can over power the exhilaration and fun, and other days the sheer buzz has us completing efforts on a high. Building our muscle memory doesn’t dull our love for the bike, it just addicts us more, the habit becomes a lifestyle.
But it’s not just about an effort, its more than that. I will throw it out there, I think cyclists smile more than any others; sorry swimmers, runners and gym bunnies.
Riding such a majestic machine will plant a smile on your face. How is it possible that something with only two wheels defies its precarious uprightness? That once the skill is mastered, can be controlled with such ease, returning to the rider wonderful sensations as they pilot their machine on remote trails, through challenging city scapes, purpose made parks and lonely country roads. We never become the master, as we know that one moment of over confidence can hurt, so we respect and partner with the machine, subtly moving our balance and working its controls. There is no better machine to play on, and the more we play, the more control we have and the faster we go, this is no zero-sum relationship.
So, in this age where our numbers are growing, those who witness this from afar are misguided that our pleasure is lycra and soy lattes, but for us we know its play. Just like kids who play sport, they don’t do so to get fit, they play sport because of the sheer love of the activity and comradery. We ride bikes because we love riding bikes, sometimes we play to be the fastest, to ride the farthest, sometimes we start out to get fit, or lose weight, but soon fall for the spell of the bike. Some of us are highly organised and competitive, some of us very casual and social, but we are there because we love riding bikes, our relationship with them, and others that share the same pleasure.
We should never stop playing. So, share this with your non-riding friends. Every cyclist is smiling on the inside, and when we can, we are beaming on the outside on every ride. They best join us, come out and play.