A couple of blog posts recently have encouraged me to think about why I love cycling and why I ride my bike. Work has been tough recently and the bike has been a nice place away from the newsroom, which can be both grim and elating in the same breath.
Firstly, Michael Barry of Team Sky posted his thoughts about how cycling has helped shape his world in Around The Block:
“We were constantly discovering. We could escape into our own world where we had independence and freedom. On our bikes, there was a sense of liberty. Exploring the world broadened our horizons and developed our maturity.”
My bike has always meant liberty to me. In London it means avoiding waiting around for buses and trains that never come in the middle of the night. Growing up in a village near Woking, it meant access to the town, to the railway station, to the countryside around. It meant going to the woods on St Johns Lye with the wicked natural berm by the railway cutting and whoops through the trees.
But even when racing it offers escape and freedom. That moment of defiance as you flick the Vs and escape the bunch, no matter how brief, is something everyone should try to experience. If you’ve tried it and not felt that raucous laughter deep inside, you’re not doing it right.
Knowing that somewhere there is the hope of escape, that’s what should drive every race. If you start without that feeling, you start defeated.
Secondly, Jules Wall, wrote about his part in people’s cycling life in Bike Fitting Art & Design:
“Over the years I have come to realisation that many people do not ride bikes just for fitness they are on a journey or on a quest they ride for a reason not just to get from A to B; and in to my studio on occasion disguised in lycra walk recovering alchoholics, young people with chronic illnesses, cancer survivors and people looking to re invent themselves and their lives and they all ride bikes, want to ride, have to ride and they want me to help them and it’s an inspiration and a privilege every time.
Their motivation and approach to life despite their condition and challenges in every day life would be enough, but they want to ride a bike as part of their recovery or therapy, both physical and mental; get fitter, get stronger, lose weight, ride further, do that Ironman, ride across the Alps, ride from London to Brighton.”
Cycling is something of a clearing house for people escaping from their past, the present and trying to avoid their future. Perhaps the most moving story is that of the Team Rwanda riders, for whom cycling offers an incredible opportunity both personally and for their country.
Riding makes their lives richer in almost every sense. That’s why you should ride your bike.