Activity. Habit. Way of Life. Culture. Cycling
Would I start every post apologising about the certain silence here for a while, it would become normal. It would become a habit. A part of everyday life. Such as cycling has become for me. Today certainly reminded me I should voice my opinion once again, encouraged by loads of yellow in the British papers, yellow or not they might be anyway. All of the sudden it’s Wiggo here, Cavendish there, and we haven’t even started the Games. Cycling made it on all the front pages, it is all of the sudden unavoidable. Even on your way to the next chip shop you cannot ignore it. But looking around me there is one thing missing while I step out of the shop and look around – it’s people that cycle. Their appearances have become more frequently, yet they are still a rare species. The fast that the skies have opened once again over Edinburgh makes it no easier.
But Bradley Wiggins certainly put two wheels back on the agenda, and columnists are not shy speaking about the cycling revolution, the new golden age of the bicycle. Really? At the same time I read a fantastic column by Robert Penn in the Independent, which says it all: Forget your sorrows, touch the gods – all you have to do is get on your bike.
There is no golden age needed and certainly no revolution, it’s all here, and very much alive. Scotland has some of the most scenic paths and roads to cycle on, yet spotting someone on two wheels is a rare sight. On my journey home from Stirling each night of the week I certainly see more dogs and horses on one day than cyclists combined over the whole week. On the other extreme I am very likely to get annoyed by huge groups of testosterone-filled, conformal-dressed road bike warriors that block my way every now and then.
It possibly needs role models like Wiggins to encourage people to pick up their old bikes or get a new one, but it doesn’t take long to understand why cycling is such an addictive, yet so simple and enjoyable activity. We keep complaining about the missing infrastructure, and I have certainly met more people that have more good excuses why they don’t cycle than those who can share passionate memories about life on two wheels.
I, on my own, can only tell you that cycling has enriched myself in the most incredible way. It wasn’t Jan Ullrich, neither any other Tour de France cyclist that has passed my memories in the years passed. It is hard to nail any benefits of cycling down for me, as there are too many to think about. Freedom might rank as the most important one, but cycling goes with so many other benefits that it would be cruel just too mention a few. And I am no other than the person that passes me on my way to the supermarket, I am no different than the average Briton. But cycling changed my life, and no other activity really had the power to do that.
When you think about the person that will happily take the bike to travel to the Olympic Games, then you think about how normal cycling has become for me. Within the normal there is still plenty of room for excitement, and I cannot think of a day when that should end. Cycling helped me all the way on my journey becoming the person I am right now, and I am more than comfortable being there. It helped travelling places around the world and making new friends. It became more than a hobby and activity, it became a habit. The habit becomes a personal culture, a way of life. You could spin that story further, but you can really keep it simple. Life is better by bike. For me, and many generations to come.
PS: And here a proof, pictures taken on my daily commute from Stirling to Edinburgh (or the other way around)
2012 Commuting Impressions, a set on Flickr.