It’s hard to determine when exactly the transition happens from leisurely cyclist to die-hard enthusiast. It might not happen the first time you sit in the saddle – it certainly didn’t for me. My first time on the road bike was a somewhat stressful, traffic-dodging experience on Boxing Day, when I was more concerned about getting home for turkey leftovers than I was with a potentially incomparable feeling of freedom. But there will come a moment when you’re turning the peddles and you will realise why you ride a bike.
‘Intoxicated with the freedom of cycling’ Saddledrunk.
There seems to be something very special about the bike that differentiates it from many other sports; something enormously creative and universally attainable. As Saddledrunk rightly put it, it’s intoxicating. So, here’s how cycling can change your life.
There is no feeling close to the freedom of being on a bike. It grants an independence like no other, yet there’s something immensely humbling about carrying yourself through the countryside on two wheels. Aside from simply being out in the fresh air, you’ll see more of your country than you ever thought possible and indeed, of many other countries too if you want to. In this way, the bike will change your lifestyle. It quickly cultivates an appreciation of nature, architecture and culture; a thirst for adventure.
Sunglasses | Oakley
As a low impact sport, cycling is attractive to all different levels and does wonders for your fitness. It’s quick to see improvement too; and the improvement becomes somewhat addictive when you find you can climb a hill you couldn’t climb before, or maintain a level of cadence in a higher gear than you could last week. It’s easier to establish and love as a lifestyle than a half-hearted attempt at a gym membership. But above all, do it for the guilt-free snacks. If you love carbs, learn to love cycling. There’s nothing like rocking up at a food station on your first ever sportive and seeing tables laden with flapjack, jelly beans, malt loaf, cake, bananas; the list goes on. It’s like a bake sale on steroids. And it’s free.
‘It never gets easier, you just get faster’ Greg LeMond
Cycling has completely changed my outlook on life. It’s an incredibly mindful sport. When you’re climbing up a really hard hill, in that moment you absolutely cannot think of anything else other than turning the peddles over to keep yourself going, or at least upright. It can also be very reflective and creative; a lot of thinking can be done on a bike. Or on the other hand, you can do absolutely none whatsoever and completely loose yourself in your surroundings. And finally, it can make you feel really good about yourself. Even fixing a puncture brings with it an immense sense of achievement, let alone getting to the top of a mountain (or what often feels like one!)
‘When my legs hurt, I say: “Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!’ Jens Voigt
I’ve never been more competitive in sport then I have in cycling; I ride mostly with my Dad and we’re always egging each other on in terms of w/Kg. It’s a fantastic sport for all the geeks out there since there’s so much to measure and learning how to be more efficient and improve your power output is all part of the fun. With reference to Eddy Merckx below, adopting this competitive attitude will also help you to keep up with those people who can triple the value of their car simply by putting their bike on it. Cycling also accounts for some of the most exciting sporting events of the year; the Tour de France, the Giro, la Vuelta to name but a few. With thousands of km of competitive road racing going on every year by some of the world’s most inspiring athletes, it’s very easy to adopt a competitive spirit.
‘Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.’ Eddy Merckx
Trisuit* | Saddledrunk
I’m sure many will be inclined to disagree with me on this one and indeed, I would also argue that the infamous MAMIL can be deemed an exception. But there’s something about a pair of bib shorts or a trisuit that makes you feel really pro. And there’s so many new and exciting cycling apparel brands on the market, from high-end to the very affordable. Saddledrunk in particular have a completely awesome brand ethic.
‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.’ Desmond Tutu
Finally, the cycling community is absolutely wicked. You only need to take one look at the hilarious Velominati rule book or the ‘sacred text’ as it is more well known, to want in. It’s so social. You’ll be out on the road by yourself and end up cycling miles and miles with people you’ve never met before. And as such, be prepared for it to completely change your views on cycling as a motorist. Ultimately, there’s a place for everyone here and whatever your level, you’ll soon realist that cycling is not just a sport; it is a craftsmanship. I love it.