Why do I ride? I get asked this question from time to time from friends who are perplexed at my cycling addiction. And I am sure many of you out there may have been asked this very question too.
Of course, our answers vary, probably depending how many times we’ve traveled around the sun.
When I was a kid, riding my bike was pure fun. But it also took me places. Here was the perfect combination of something that I loved to do but could also take me to meet up with my friends and to soccer practice, and to our local convenient store for candy and such. In my teenage years, my bike was really my #1 source of transportation and I depended on it for so much.
But, like a lot of others, once I was able to drive, my bike was no longer my go-to companion. It sadly sat in the garage collecting dust, replaced by a large unencumbered 1982 Ford LTD. The radius of my world up until that moment in time suddenly grew exponentially and the invisible limits that my old bike had on my life were quickly erased by two bench seat sofas on wheels. I grew older and life did too. It wasn’t until college that I bought another bike. But this time, it was strictly to get me to school and help shuttle me to and from my classes that were scattered all around campus. And slowly, my appreciation of two wheels was lit – albeit more like a pilot light instead of a bonfire.
After college, and then eventually grad school, my bike life was really limited to cruisers and a brief affair with an old Voodoo hardtail. I cruised around the beaches where I used to live, to the stores, to the restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc. It wasn’t until years later, when I entered the corporate world, that I eventually met friends who were serious road bikers and after what I considered to be a sizable investment ($1500), I bought my first road bike and just like that, I was back in it.
We would meet 4 or 5 times a week, early morning group rides led to lunch rides, which led to charity fondo rides, then metric centuries, and finally full centuries. I loved road biking, but unfortunately, I kept hearing of people getting clipped or worse, getting killed by inattentive drivers who were too busy looking at their phones rather than the roadways. And after one incident too many of almost being run over, I had enough and decided that maybe I should go and give mountain biking a real chance.
Over the years, I had ridden some of my friends’ hardtails and even had one for a short time. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that I bought my first full suspension bike and that was it – I was hooked. The pilot light had ignited in earnest and just like that, I felt like a kid again. Since that first full suspension bike, I have had XC bikes, trail bikes, enduro bikes, e-bikes, etc. Currently I ride a full suspension trail bike, with 130mm of travel and am having a blast. I have a local loop that I try and ride 3 or 4 times a week and I still enjoy my ride, every single time.
I’m not a competitive racer and ride for the pure pleasure of it. The benefits that I receive are many.
I have a neighbor. He’s 94 years old. He lives alone now, after his wife passed 5 or 6 years ago. He rides his bike, every single day. He pedals about 7 miles a day on his bike that looks like it was built in the 60’s. He’s great and sharp as a tack and even though he doesn’t know this, his daily jaunts serve as an incentive to get me out there, even on days where I might want to take a pass. He reminds me how lucky we are to be able to ride. How lucky we are to have found this great sport and lifestyle. So ultimately, I ride because I don’t want the journey to end. And I want to have as much fun as I can along the way.