Every single rider has, at some point, started to question why we do what we do. Let’s face it, there are easier sports out there than cycling. Going for a run, shooting some hoops, kicking a ball around, or pumping iron at the gym – all worthy pursuits, and all less time-consuming, less expensive, and, if everyone is being honest about it, all easier than cycling. So why bother? Why stick at it when there are so many simpler options?
One of the great things about being a cyclist is that you can do it, and do it well, as you get older. Most of us know the “old guy” who still races when he or she is in her late sixties and beats riders less than half her age. Unlike most other sports, cycling puts your body through virtually no impact so there is very little wear and tear on the joints or ligaments – compare this to a sport such as running, where every step is sending a jarring impact up from the ground to reverberate through the feet, legs, and hips and it makes sense that cyclists can typically stay competitive for decades longer than other athletes.
Ask any of these older riders why they stuck with cycling and they’ll generally reel off a list of reasons that goes something like this:
It's a great social sport. Even though it can often be an individual pursuit (pardon the pun), great social networks and lasting friendships can be forged as the miles roll by. Common wisdom tells us that we can be defined by the five people we associate most with, and if some of those people are tenacious, committed, and open-minded enough to be cyclists, then they’re probably exactly the type of people we should surround ourselves with. A solo ride on a deserted country road can be a wonderful thing, but so can a quick dash through the busy streets on a coffee shop cruise with good friends.
It will build resilience. In our modern world of iPhones, Teslas, and soy lattes, we’ve got it pretty good, and it’s very easy to become soft and complacent. Being tough enough to get up before dawn on those freezing winter mornings is a reward in itself if you look at it with the right mindset; while the rest of your co-workers are struggling out of bed you’ve already put in 30 miles, had breakfast and are ready to tackle the day. Pat yourself on the back.
It will keep you looking good. Regardless of whether you ride fast or slow, seven days a week or three, riding your bike is definitely better for you than NOT riding. Your legs, lungs, butt, and heart will testify to this.
There is freedom and equality on the bike. Once you get rolling, everyone is pretty much equal on the bike. There might be some sort of primitive hierarchy that rewards faster riders, but generally, if you can hang with the bunch you’re riding with then you’re part of the team. It’s hard to find this in “real life,” where your job, car, or address are often things people judge you on. Not on the bike.
Your holidays are better. If you’ve never been on a bikepacking or cycling holiday, then you’re missing out. The scenery, the food, the wine, and the people all seem better and more interesting when you’re on a bike. We really think you should look into a bike tour holiday to refresh your love for cycling.
So, why on earth would you quit riding?
It's getting stale. Try riding a different route or finding a different group to ride with. Your local bike shop will be able to point you in the right direction and often have organized bunch rides leaving from their front doors throughout the week. Don’t be shy, they’ll be happy to help.
I just can't drag myself out of bed. Yep, this is a tough one. A good way to ensure you get up is to arrange to meet a friend or training partner at an exact time and an exact place, such as “5:45 AM at the corner of X and Y street.” We are far more willing to let ourselves down than other people, so make the commitment and stick to it, and let your friend know that you are holding them accountable, too.
I need a new bike but can't afford one. Maybe you do, or maybe you’re just looking for an excuse. A good service or a professional bike fit is far cheaper than a new bike, but it will still make you feel brand new and might be just the motivation you need. Failing that, a new helmet, pair of shoes, or jersey are far cheaper than a bike, so maybe treat yourself to one of those – just one – and then reward yourself again after a month or two of solid riding. Having the right equipment and the right clothing for the weather you’ll be riding in is crucial to enjoying yourself out there. Jackets, jerseys and shoe covers can get a bit pricey, but shop around for bargains and buy what is essential, not what you think might come in handy or just looks cool. Shop by material, design, and purpose, not just by brand.
Remember how lucky you are! There are people out there, plenty of them in fact, who would love to be able to ride a bike but can’t. Be thankful for the beauty of the simple human-powered bicycle and the fun that you can have on it. Don’t quit.