Not to long ago, delliott13 tweeted the question:” Why do you ride?” and then followed up with a really good article explaining his motivations. You should take the time to jump to his blog and read the entry, well worth it.
Unlike delliott13, the only recollection from my childhood riding days is a severe case of roadrash I got after losing control of my bicycle in a sharp turn at the end of a steep downhill. Funny, the things we remember after decades, but I can still see Mom with this big orange colored bottle of iodine and her pouring it over the side of my raw right chest and thigh. Next thing I remember is a hospital room and a pair of forceps picking out sticks and stones from my thigh. I think that was the last time I rode as a kid .
Fast forward some 30 years to the year 2000 and here I am, enjoying life, a good job and being in the restaurant business, ample access to great food and all the booze you want. So you ask, what has this got to do with riding?
#1 reason: Exercise! Back in 2000 I found myself buying slacks and suites with ever bigger waistlines. At 5’9″ I am not a tall guy and there is no reason in the world to have a 38″ waistline. It was then that I started to realize I had to do something and I joined a gym. After a week I already hated it, not because of the workout part, but because of the waste of time getting to and from the place, and frankly, there is a smell about a gym I could care less about. I started talking to friends and one said:”Man, you got to ride!” That person was Jeff. He would talk to me about cycling with such passion that it was impossible to dismiss the possibility. I bought my first bicycle (Cannondale T-600) and started riding.
#2 reason: I can ride when I want, for as long or short as I want, easy or hard, hills or flats – and since I start out from home, I don’t have to go someplace to do something, the moment I am on the bike, I am working out.
#3 reason: I LOVE the time I have to myself. I don’t belong to a club (my odd work hours are not well suited for that), therefor, very rarely do I get to ride with others. At times it is fun (and a lot easier) to ride in groups, but I really value the solitude of the ‘solo’ ride. I love the rhythm of the pedal stroke, the feel of the correct cadence and on almost every ride there is a stretch when I am in perfect sync with the bike, an awesome feeling.
#4 reason: I am an ‘outdoor’ guy and cycling allows me to see and explore the things I like.
#5 reason: I ride because I can (I know, sort of sounds lame) but it is true. Cycling gives me a sense of freedom. That freedom is expressed in different ways – there is as much feeling of freedom in a hard climb as there is in an exhilarating downhill or just cruising along the coast line.
Sometimes I don’t get to ride for a couple of days or a week and when that happens – I really miss it – and it shows. Riding helps me reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight (that 38 waist is a 32 now), gives me energy and a positive outlook and allows to challenge myself (my next Century is on May 9, 103 miles, 7000′ elevation gain, yeah!)
Thank you, delliott13, for the challenging question. It was fun contemplating while riding along the Pacific Ocean.