Cycling For Reasons Beyond The Podium

Don’t Wanna Race? That’s OK!

For many, cycling for reasons beyond the podium is a foreign concept.

In my opinion, when most people think of cycling, they think of road cycling.  And when they think of road cycling, they think of World-Tour racers and the hordes of lycra-clad MAMILs trying to emulate them on weekend testosterone-fests. When they walk into most bicycle shops, this is the image most likely to find: that of the racing hero. For many, cycling for reasons beyond the podium is a foreign concept.

Don’t get me wrong. Competitive cycling is fun, not just the pin-a-number variety, but also the racing-for-the-city-limits fun version. Fast cycling is addictive, and once you’re hooked it is very hard to let go.  It is natural that many road cycling enthusiasts think of racing at one point in their development as their fitness (and speed) increases.

Fast cycling is addictive, and once you’re hooked it is very hard to let go. 

But road cycling is only one area of the vast cycling world out there.  Even for those that enjoy road cycling, racing isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the ultimate destination in their cycling journey. I recently wrote an article on cycling priorities that touches a bit on this topic.

Cycling For Fitness

One great reason to pick up cycling is just for fitness. You can read more about some of cycling benefits at Bicycling, Cycling Weekly, and BikeRadar.

Cycling For Fun

If you don’t feel like that child that first got on a bike many years ago, something’s wrong.

It’s been said that, “If you are not having fun, you’re not doing it right.”  If your cycling activities are just one suffering session after another I’d wager my bibs that it won’t be long before you burn out and sell all your equipment. Yes there is a place for training, and training by definition will be hard.  But there should be some anticipation and excitement surrounding all of your cycling activities.  If you don’t feel like that child that first got on a bike many years ago, something’s wrong. Cycle with your significant other, to your favorite coffee shop.  Stop along the way and snap some pictures with your cellphone. Practice bunny-hopping, track stands and wheelies.  Learn to ride no-handed (please be mindful of your surroundings). Remember to smile, and wave!

Cycling For Exploration

Another popular type of cycling is touring, whether fully-supported or self-contained. More recently bike-packing has become more and more popular. The idea is to travel to and explore places using your bicycle as the primary mode of transportation. This allows you to experience the landscape and culture in a more intimate way. You don’t even need expensive equipment to do this: any reliable bicycle in good working order, shorts, t-shirt, sandals, a helmet, and a bag or two will do.  There are many organizations that can help you get started; here in the United States one of the most popular ones is Adventure Cycling.

Cycling For Utility

“Work. The time between my morning and evening commutes.”

Utility cycling, like bike-commuting to work can be another great way to include fitness into your busy schedule or reduce that huge gas bill. I once read these words from a very committed bike commuter: “Work. The time between my morning and evening commutes.”  That brought a smile to my face.

When a significant number of daily car trips are less than just a few miles utility cycling could be the answer to eliminate many of the transportation and parking problems in many cities. Here’s an article from the WorldWatch Institute that although I bit dated I am confident that it is still very much relevant.

Cycling For Reasons Beyond The Podium: Conclusion

There are many forms of cycling that don’t involve racing or having to spend lots on expensive equipment.  A healthy attitude and a well-maintained bicycle can go a long way in making cycling a wonderful experience for anyone.

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