I got into cycling about a decade ago and right off the bat, I felt this surge of independence. There was no parking hassle and I got excercise everyday. It felt mentally and physically uplifting to use the power of my own legs to do one of the most essential things in life: transportation. I will admit, when I first got into bicycles, I rode fast. Just making the world a blur as my pedals spun as fast I could get them to. Back then, for me, it was about the fastest time to get to my destination with no real goal other than I was just so excited to get on my bike.
Today, I’ve changed my tune a bit. Still, everyday I acknowledge the great things the bike does for me, just at a much slower pace. What I realize now after riding and helping people with bikes for ten years is that cycling is an experience. Whether it’s getting ready to blast up hills in the Driftless area or prepping your panniers for groceries, every ride has it’s purpose. That purpose can be exploration, commuting to work, exercise, or recreation with friends. For us bike shop employees, we must encourage people to have a great experience on their bikes. To remind them that cycling is good for our minds and bodies as well as for our community. But most importantly, we want you to notice how beautiful the world is. That there is an inherent difference between how you experience life in a car verses on a bike. We want you to get excited about riding just like we do everyday.
Next time you swing your leg over your bike, I want you to be conscious of your senses. Take in a big breath of cool fresh air. Feel your heart pumping faster. Notice the colors on the trees. Wave to a stranger. Take a detour maybe to a new cafe or restaurant you’ve never been to. Even notice that smile that you’re making. These are things you can’t necessarily do in a car. This is how I choose to experience the world and why I continue to leave my car keys at home. Don’t be a ‘pathlete,’ enjoy every second and know that you can do and enjoy a lot in life on a bike. Eddy Merckx said it best, “Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”