It hit me hard last year.
There I was, once again dreaming of far off places…
Remote regions explored by bike, long days in the saddle.
The problem was, it simply wasn’t the time for me to pick up and go. Life dictated for the moment, I sit still and focus on some personal projects and work.
How simple it is to get sucked into the vortex of longing to be where we’re not. Our minds wander elsewhere while we’re pedaling down familiar roads we’ve already committed to memory, scenic as they may be. We drool over pictures of cyclists experiencing the essence of what we all want: exploration, chasing limits and gleaning inspiration from our surroundings. We all want to have a transformative experience on a bike — and see the world.
This process of transformation by bicycle began to swirl around more and more in my head. I began to break down the attributes of the bike unrelated to location or mountaintop views, (even though I usually convince myself that’s what I truly need to fill my bike hunger.)
I began to gain clarity through this process about the unsung beauty of the cycling experience — that it isn’t just a means to take us places physically. The bike has the ability to reach the far off places in our bodies and minds, as well.
If you’ve ridden long enough, you begin to respect the parallel existence of cycling and real life. Cycling becomes a way to understand and navigate your real life struggles of pain, failure, love, hunger, desire, understanding, adventure and self-discovery.
Through pushing limits and finding them, resetting, and pushing some more, we find and understand ourselves, others and the earth.
It’s through cycling I’ve experienced different cultures, brought twin sons into the world, and have lived as a family on a shoestring budget, full-time in a 250 sq ft RV.
“The grass is always greener” syndrome sometimes keeps us from the transformative experience taking place in our every day cycling life.
Maybe the adventure and inspiration is in our own backyard. It may even hit you on the stationary trainer during a sweatfest.
Adventure will come when you’re open to new sensations. It could be your willingness to defy freezing cold temperatures and rain. Perhaps it’s joining a group ride you consider to be way over your limits — and you hang on for dear life. It could be as simple as riding new roads without a GPS unit and figuring it out.
I got addicted to cycling travel as a professional racer, taken across the world for competitions. I feel that itch every day to plan a trip…to just “get out of here” and find something new to keep my attention. I definitely point the finger at myself for being absent in mind when it comes to feeling the opportunity to make the present day a far ride.
But perhaps with purpose and mindfulness, the purity of the cycling experience can be cultivated by the frame of mind we create every time we clip in.