So I’m listening to BBC radio 5, typing away on the keyboard and lending half an ear to the wireless. The journalist/author Miranda Sawyer is being interviewed. The topic? Mid-life crisis. I’m half interested. The habits, concerns, hassles and reactions of my co-40-somethings are rationalised away. Then the topic turns to cycling and the sneering starts.
<Queue the sound of a needle skipping across vinyl>
Now I’m interested. REALLY interested. Roll out the clichés. Cycling is the ‘the new golf’. Cycling makes it acceptable for half-hearted husbands and fathers to legitimise escaping for hours on end. Cycling (apparently) is ‘inevitable’ and by the tone of it, a little bit sad.
Well as a life long cyclist, let me add my two penneth.
Cycling is not the new golf. No, no, NO. Why? You don’t have to stand on ceremony. You’re not restricted to cultivated lawns that require costly upkeep at environmental cost. You don’t sit in a little electric buggy, carting around your bag of golf sticks as the tassles swing from two tone shoes. When you cycle, you are freed, liberated, alive. The world is your oyster, the limits your own. Go as short, or as far or as high as you want to. Roll on tarmac. Bounce over rocks. Glide on grass. No. Cycling is definitely NOT the new golf.
Escaping for hours. Let’s deal with that one. Cycling can take hours of course. But it really doesn’t have to (that’s another difference between golf and cycling – rules). When I go riding, I choose a time negotiated with the family – if they’re not also joining me – and enjoy my ride time in the context of my other commitments. Sometimes that means a long ride (3 hours +), sometimes it means a short ride (1 hour or less) and sometimes it means something in between. But it will ALWAYS be at an agreed time to suit all. No need to duck responsibilities. No need to disappear. Rather than being viewed as a shirker, you should be revered as a role model, looking after your health, fitness and wellbeing, all the while shunning inactivity.
The inevitability of riding. I rather hope that riding is inevitable. I would prefer for that discovery to be made by people early on in their lives, but I’d like to think that everyone will eventually discover the joys of cycling; the simple beauty of spinning under your own steam, the truth of pitching yourself against the elements, the lasting affirmation of life.
There. All off my chest.So here’s my support and sales pitch to all: Welcome aboard. Don’t let anyone look down their noses at you. Don’t listen to the jealous and presumptuous. Go out and ride instead. Try something new. Explore new paths. Show ‘em the way. Convert ‘em if you can. You’ve discovered something special, so never be dissuaded. May the road always rise to meet you and may the wind be forever at your back.