Cycling’s Big Question: What for?

What for? Or Why wouldn't you?

What for? Or Why wouldn’t you?

Just riding along, (or JRA) and that big question lobs up once again “What am I doing this for?”.

Most profoundly it appears during the middle of a long hard race or as a car door almost takes you out. Some way up a mountain when the view is already teasing you with it’s mystery, it starts to call out in time with the pain in your legs.

There are many logical answers to the “what for” question, but they fail to answer the deeper query that continues to resonate for years to come.

World of Cycling
Entering the world of cycling from any angle, perhaps it’s commuting (to work, school or delivering papers), to develop fitness, recover from injury. It’s because you’ve given up running? Maybe your friends talked you into? Better still maybe your better half got you into it.

Perhaps you wear skinny jeans and ride fixed or figure revealing lycra and have 22 electronic gears. Could it be the baggy shorts as your wheels loft off the dirt, or as you’re fanging around a circuit, even cycling on your dutchie heading off black tie style to a wedding. Or it’s YOUR wedding.

Whatever the case, at one time or another during all the hours and kilometres, the question “why am I doing this?” has probably presented.

Argeles-sur-Mer Cycling Club under Mt Canigou

Argeles-sur-Mer Cycling Club under Mt Canigou

When it’s distilled down to its most basic form, a human, a bike, pedalling force, motion, direction, what is it about being on the bike that provides that unique sense of being? That pushes us to carry on despite the seemingly unwinnable battle that roams around our heads.

I don’t think it’s static in that the first reason for taking up cycling is probably not the same one that continues the pursuit. It may be the one that ends it though.

Patterns?
Getting away from the purposeful drivers, like commuting, and sticking with the sportive outlook, there’s definitely a pattern to the personal attachment to cycling.

Maybe it started with racing, then, as other demands reduced the time for training the focus became signature events, personal challenges even. Or it was a few events then full blown racing.

A lifecycle of cycling is not programmable. It’s a constant discovery of what outlook matches the desire to pedal. After being constrained by racecourse bunting, finish lines, clocks and rostrums, perhaps the allure of a ride, route or realm no one else has tackled has got your juices flowing.

Answers?
I’d proffer that there’s four major connections with the pedals and that they come and go like the tide in phases. All of them in some way help us answer that question of “what for?”, but the final answer remains as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s there somewhere though.

1. Participate
When you join a cycling group and become a member or you decide to enter an event, be it a fundraiser, something like Around the Bay in a Day (Melbourne-based), a decision has been made to participate in something bigger than riding solo along the road. It offers a social element, the means to connect, the potential for personal challenge.

2. Place
Entering a race is about earning a place. Earning a place on the rostrum, earning a place in a team, earning a place in a higher grade, placing in fastest time or furthest distance.

3. Pioneer
It hasn’t been done before. No one’s thought of that. Maybe it’s 2000 kilometres on Beach Rd in a week or taking a lap of Tasmania, or Australia. Coast to coast unsupported, across America, maybe tackling every peak of the Pyrenees in France and Spain. Maybe it’s just a new tour through the suburbs. Whatever it is, you thought about it and you’re doing it.

4. Pleasure
Once the bike touches the pavement, pebbles or pave, that’s enough. The pedal is pushed forward and that’s it. No striving, no goals, no plan, no KPIs, no data. Pedal and roll.

How do you answer to the holler of the “what for’s”?

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