I am sure many cyclists have been asked this question - sometimes in exasperated tones as you spend more valuable time and money on all things cycling. However, I ask and answer this question with no angle and a genuine curiosity - much how my 7 year old son asked me.
Love - noun - a great interest and pleasure in something
So this is the kind of love I am talking about and a definition which resonates with us when we think of cycling. So now to the answer of why I do have a 'great interest and pleasure' in cycling.
'Smiles not Segments' - Jen, Majorca Autumn Escape '24
It is FUN - I started riding a bike because it was fun and I continue to ride bikes because cycling is fun. Sure, there can be elements that are tricky, painful and maybe even scary, but more often than not they are still fun!
Physical Health - This topic is probably for another article, but the physiological benefits of cycling are numerous and when coupled with the fun element make a perfect combination
Mental Health - The benefits to mental health are well reported, but I am conscious that the benefits each person feels will be personal and nuanced. For me, someone who has mental health challenges, cycling provides a space for calm thought and reasoning in an often chaotic and manic mind. I used to think of riding bike as 'avoiding work', where now I understand it provides me with the space for my mind to function better.
Adventure - Seeing new places can be done in a car, train or even plane, but the bicycle is a brilliant way to experience places and get a sense of adventure. Cycling allows your senses to run riot and your mind to run free - for me that is the spirit of adventure and joy of a journey by bicycle.
Social connections - Whether it is catching up with friends or meeting people for the first time - cycling is a brilliant way to connect with others who share the joy of cycling. For us at Bike+, one of the best parts of our job is to be able to meet such a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life and many different countries - it is a genuine privilege as 99% of people are lovely;
Transport - This not some virtue signalling point - as a travel company we understand and wrestle with the contradictions around flying lots and sustainable travel. However, we do believe that many more short journeys in day to day life should be walking or cycling. Living in a village we are lucky to be able to cycle and walk nearly everywhere in our day to day life - the only thing missing is a Cargo Bike, but it is on the shopping list!
When reflecting on my answer to this question it became apparent that none of my reasons involved any form of 'metric' - distance ridden, average speed, racing, strava segments, going faster or beating anyone. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy competition and racing fast is fun, but it does not motivate me - I loved the quote from a recent trip when a guest said the ride was for 'smiles not segments' - and this was said by an outrageously good cyclist who could smash strava segments at will. Furthermore, it is probably why I hated the turbo trainer and sold it to buy a new MTB - in short I did not find that indoor cycling was anything close to the cycling I love - horses for courses I guess!
Get me outside, away from a screen and experiencing the world around me with people that make me smile. Here is to a muddy, cold and damp winter on the bike!!
Sam Woodward, 26th Oct 2024