I took up cycling a few months ago. The more I do it, the more I want to do it, and I’ve found that cycling is very much like life in many ways.
1. When life hands you lemons, ride a bike
I got on the bike because I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for nearly a year, which has severely curtailed my running. Injuries suck, and you deal with it either by crawling under a rock, gaining weight and drinking gin (tried it; didn’t work) or by getting into painful massage therapy, night socks (seriously sexy I tell ya), ice baths (fun!) and different sports. I got on my dumpy hybrid – the one I used to ride to work and back – and started riding. After a few eeks of that I got myself a sleek road bike complete with fenders, mud flaps, and some rain gear. Recently, I got myself an urban bike to ride on days I don’t ride more than 20 kms. I’ve been riding all winter. I feel like I could fly again. I seriously love riding more and more each day.
2. Face the fear head on.
Fear of a breakdown. Fear of being hit by a truck. Fear of falling because I couldn’t unclip in time (did it already – twice). Fear of getting a flat. I’ve faced each and every one of those fears by gaining skills and knowledge and tools. I took an intro bike maintenance course and I can now change my own tire, lube my own chain, shift properly and I always check my tire pressure. It’s made me a much more confident cyclist.
3. It’s more fun with friends.
I found a great group to ride with Saturday mornings. They’re not hot dog maniacs training for the Olympics, they don’t all wear identical jerseys and ride two abreast at an average speed of 37.5 kms per hour – not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that feeling inadequate is not why I do this. No, I found a group that paces along at about 23-25 kph and waits for me at the top of the hills as I wheeze up the back of the peleton. Sometimes I even get a little push, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because I bring muffins.
4. It’s not what you look like, it’s what you do.
Or its corollary: helmet hair really isn’t all that bad. The rest of the group has helmet head too at the coffee shop after a ride. I trust we all clean up well. I mean, I do (right?). I also hope I’ll be able to recognize cycling buddies in civilian gear if I run into them at the grocery store…
5. On the other hand, looks are still important
I love my bike so much I want to ride it everywhere. Trouble is, my road bike has such a sleek geometry, spandex is the only way to ride it. So, a few weeks ago I got myself a pretty urban bike with a more upright geometry, a woven basket and a cute helmet to match. I started following blogs like Lovely Bicycle. Now I ride one or the other or both bikes every day: for exercise, shopping, work, errands, pub or to go to the gym. I am dangerously close to becoming one of those annoying Bicycle Rights people: