Today someone asked me if cycling was my recreational sport. I was a bit surprised by this question, but see why they asked it. Where I work, I am one of only two who cycle into work. I work in a common multi story office block that has a company gym on the lower level. Once or twice a week I cycle to work, 22 miles each way, and my office does not support a safe place to keep my bike so I bring it into the office and place it in an empty cubicle for the day. My work does not allow me to keep my clothes in a gym locker so I have to walk through the office in my complete cycling gear carrying my bike on my one shoulder and let’s just say I get noticed. I would prefer not to have to do this but the choice of not cycling to work or being stared at in my Lycra is an easy choice for me.
Throughout the day my bike gets lots of attention and I can be commonly referred as ‘the bike chick’. I commonly get asked how far my commute is and when I answer it is about 22 miles each way they are flabbergasted. ‘How long does that take you?’ I get asked next and really on a good day that takes less than 1 hour and 15 minutes. Many people will sit in a car for that long to and from work each day, but the idea of sitting on a bike for that time seems totally incomprehensible to the majority of people. I love it, instead of being frustrated with morning commuting traffic and the same songs on the radio I drive through the New Jersey countryside and take in the fresh morning air. It gives me time to think about my day ahead; by the time I get to work I feel like I have already achieved something and have peace of mind.
Getting back to the question I was asked, I took a minute to respond. Cycling is not my recreational sport but part of my lifestyle. If you ask anyone they will tell you that I am competitive, to the point that some don’t like to play board games with me as I ruin the fun, and I do enjoy getting faster on a bike, but I don’t compete. That’s not saying I will never enter a bike race, but my reason for cycling isn’t purely sport. I find pride knowing I can get to point A to point B all powered by myself and knowing I am not harming the environment. My husband and I only own one car, purely out of choice. He works 3 days a week and he cycles the 45 minutes each way no matter what the weather is, while I do drive into work from laziness or bad weather. On the weekends if we can find a way to not use the car and do everything by bike we are happy.
When we pick holiday a large component of our choice is cycling. If we are not cycle touring as the holiday and main mode of transport we are picking a location where there is a scenic climb and renting bikes for a couple of days to get out and see the country. Why? Cycling is addicting and especially for me I love how it made me slow down and find the scenic route. Instead of going from city to city, when you cycle you are forced to see the country in between the cities and the highways that make up the country. You sweat up the uphills and you relish in the downhills and at the end of the day you look at a map and see how much distance you covered in one day and you are gleaming with pride.
I am not completely insane and when on holiday, especially if it is a cycle tour holiday, it is nice to have a day off of the bike and to do the tourist thing for the day, a cooking class, visit a main attraction, get a massage, or do some hiking. And of course I love a day to chill out and do nothing just as the next person does, but there really is something about having cycling in my life as a main feature that gives me joy. The world we live in is such a fast past environment that I challenge you to take a step back and every once in a while try taking the slow route.