Let’s look at how our interaction and motivation with the bicycle exist or change during our lifetime. Are you ready for a trip down memory lane or to glimpse into the future?
The early years
Every child dreams of getting a bicycle. How many of us saw a bike in the local shop window and immediately fell in love? If you were lucky, your parents picked up on your interest and treated you to it for a birthday, holiday or special occasion.
When you’re a kid, a bike is your first taste of freedom and independence. The chance for liberty using your legs and a set of wheels. Be it riding ahead of your parents at the local park or meeting up with neighbourhood friends to cruise around in the warm sun without a care in the world.
Whether getting to work, practice, school, shopping or a friend’s house, a bike is your mode of transportation. You don’t have a driver’s licence yet or don’t plan on ever getting one. Your bike serves you just fine; you prefer it.
Using a bike as transportation isn’t limited to a particular moment in your life. It’s a deliberate choice and something many cyclists do, even after getting a driver’s licence and a car. Is there a better, healthier, and greener way for someone to get where they need to go?
A friend from work invites you to join them on a weekend group ride and lends you one of their bikes. A group ride? What’s that? You don’t know exactly but are about to find out. One ride and you’re hooked. You’re soon creating lifetime friends and have a new social circle around the bike.
Friends motivate you to get out and ride. You’re getting fit while having fun and look forward to pedalling with your friends at every opportunity. You may even meet your future significant other. Coffee stops with a delicious and guilt-free sweet pastry are a highlight of the ride, not to mention sharing a few of your favourite beverages post-ride as you swap stories.
Ready for a new challenge
You’ve invested in your own bike to ride with friends but are craving a new challenge. Road racing on TV looks intriguing and you decide to give it a go. But how? Luckily, a cycling buddy already competing in the local scene shows you the ropes and gets you registered for your first event.
There is a lot to discover at this stage, and the learning curve is steep. You realise there is a lot more to it than just pedalling hard to stay with the pack. The pros make it look so easy. But you’ve got the bug and want to see how far you can take it. You’re already signed up for the next event.
It’s time to step up your game. You’re ready to prove to yourself and others what you can do physically on a bike. That means finding the right training program or coach to help you accomplish your goals. But what kind of rider are you? You aren’t sure yet but you know you love to climb.
That competitive spirit can be visceral and push a rider for years. And for most of us, that spark never completely goes away. There’s something inside you that compels you to keep turning the cranks through the pain. You spend hours on the bike to be ready for the next event or capture the local KOM for the bragging rights.
Have you thought about working in the cycling industry? It’s a natural progression for many cyclists who can’t get enough of their two-wheeled friends. You apply to the massive global brands or stay local. Being involved in the racing or regional event scene is terrific for meeting folks already working for a favourite brand. A personal reference can open doors.
Cycling companies, particularly large ones, need graphic artists, inside salespeople, marketing and promotional staff, engineers, a communications team, and more. There are fewer prized jobs but you have to start somewhere. You want to combine your love of bicycles with your work. And the daily lunch ride keeps you fit. If a 9-to-5 office job isn’t for you, outside sales is an option or consider becoming a cycling guide.
Health and stress reduction
It’s never too late to get on a bike. And riding is an excellent way to improve your health and reduce stress. Some time away from the merry-go-round of life is exactly what you need. Rides on peaceful, lush country roads and trails lined with trees and magnificent green landscapes are ideal. There are more than you think in less than an hour from your home.
Exercise stimulates immune cells in your body to ward off illness and releases dopamine in our brains, which makes us feel good and more relaxed. It only takes about 20 miles a week to feel the benefits and reduce our chances of heart and other chronic diseases. Getting into shape, a positive outlook, and prolonged life are your rewards. Your doctor will congratulate you on your next check-up.
And, thanks to e-bikes, you start out slowly to reap the benefits of exercise and improve your health. You can always progress from an electric to a pedal bike as you get fitter. E-bikes have opened the sport to new populations and welcomed the return of former cyclists who suffer from persistent injury or illness. Keeping up with their riding buddies anew is the best medication.
Strictly for fun
Cycling is fun at every age. And there are plenty of cycling-related activities and events with no aim other than having fun riding bikes with like-minded people. Local gravel rides, charity events and Gran Fondos are just a few examples. Is there a better way to challenge yourself, discover your surroundings or explore unfamiliar terrain than by bicycle? I don’t think so.
Former competitors may not be as young or strong on the bike as they used to but the desire lives on. Today, you ride for pleasure in favourable weather. But memories and pride don’t let us forget the past and push us to catch the rider that passed us on the hill or blew by on the flats; a perfectly healthy response for any cyclist.
What is your reason for cycling at this point in your life? How has it changed and why? We want to hear from you!