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Cycling as an Obsession

It sometimes feels that way, cycling as a culture, a belief system or just an obsession.

Especially for middle-aged males and for some kids as well, when introduced to Cycling.  I meet a lot of people mid-life, like myself, looking to a fun way to sort out their fitness.  Some might say that there must be a crisis involved to take up the wearing of head to toe lycra…

Often Doctors foretell these budding riders of their impending doom based on their sedentary lifestyle.  It is a shame that our metabolism slows down and predictions of our impending demise can hit home somewhere at around the half century.

As a Child

I guess somewhere between the age of five and 15 we take to 2 wheels for the first time.  It can be a hit and miss affair – to find our balance, a technique, stay upright, which can be pretty tough.  With the inevitable crashes as a part of falling off or trying things like jumps.  Trees and cars are high on my list of objects to avoid.

It is also can be very technical.   There is a lot to learn, a sense of bewilderment when you start riding, a whole new language to learn.  Especially as mechanical failures occur.

As a Tribe

So, it does feel like we have turned up to a place of tribalism.   For some of us rapidly becomming one of the most fervent or a junior member.  Spreading our newly acquired knowledge to all and sundry.  Otherwise you’re just there just trying to figure out what the bloody hell is going on and making sense of it.

Cycling is I think a bit like that, with everybody on road or off-road.  Even within those two categories there are different types.  With Mountain biking, there is XC cross country, Single trail, Enduro, Downhill with different grades like skiing – green, blue & black.

Learning Curve

Clearly there is a huge learning curve for anyone entering cycling.  Even if it’s at the most basic level where you have picked up something from your bike shop with three gears at the and crank seven gears at the back wheel.  Trying to figure how to change gears at both ends can be tricky.

There is the braking systems, which for mountain bikers, hydraulic disc brakes have become the default.

Various frames, usually Alloy, increasing spending means Carbon frames and componentry.  Speaking of which, provide options all looking remarkably similar, however potentially improving function and reducing weight along the way…oh and are exponentially more expensive…

A Life Force?

So, it can be a really real microcosm of life, where often in midlife our doctor has read us the riot act so far as health concerns.   Getting out and walking and okay, we’re bit fat and it’s a bit of a struggle isn’t it?  Everything is happening at a relaxed pace unless we try to jog, putting our joints at risk…

So Cycling is a bit of fun, I think because it involves velocity, it could involve going quickly.  The downhills are a breeze.  The flipside of this is the potential for crashes, a few hazards to navigate.

But I feel like there’s this multiyear journey to make it work.  One with this rapid learning, if you get into it and stay in it. You are forced to become a student of it, you are forced to regularly research and find out how to ride better, how to maintain or kit, what options are available for future bikes.  Thus, building our knowledge bank, experimenting, more from being aware how rubbish we are as a rider, developing into an instinctive, reliable and motivated rider.

Photo credit: Didier Weemaels on Unsplash

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