I haven’t been riding as much as I was this time last year, life (and in this case, baby bumps) get in the way but I’m still managing to get out a bit, with my daily commute along a quiet country road being one of the high points of my day.
A winter of snow and ice and a spring/summer of not wanting to fall off on the technical trails I used to ride with friends means my pedalling has been more sedate and given me the chance to think about what it is that I love about riding. So the answer… friendship, a common bond and a camaraderie that can only be found when you’ve had a shared experience whether joyful or slightly traumatic.
Of course riding shouldn’t be traumatic, it should be fun, but it’s those days that the ride was longer or harder than you expected, or the weather gave you a reminder that it can change without warning that you remember, those are the ones that you tell tales of in years to come and laugh about with your fellow riders. Shared experience turns strangers into friends and friends into lifelong friends, cycling offers the common bond of a passion shared that means you’re welcomed wherever you go.
I once participated in a race in Italy, the ladies of a mix of nationalities, were grouped together and I didn’t know anyone. The race was tough, it was hot, the trails were hard and a lot of us were well out of our comfort zone. After 2 days of riding, we were all the best of friends, parting with hugs and promises to meet up in the future, no-one really cared what times we’d put in, we were just happy to be together. Although I’ve not seen them since, I know if I was in their part of the world they would welcome me and show me their trails and we’d still have that common bond of riding bikes. That’s the power of cycling, whatever type of riding you like to do, the simple act of cycling side by side, whether you choose to chat or not, opens you up to new friendships and experiences.
I love the views from the tops of hills and the rush of adrenaline as I come down the other side and I love the feeling of speed on a road bike, knowing that it’s all down to me and my input, I love feeling fit and strong and the feeling of sun on my skin and fresh air in my lungs but most of all I love experiencing all of that with friends, new and old, making memories and laughing at the tough times because the tough times make for the best stories.