Those who do not cycle or take part in any form of challenging exercise often wonder what the appeal is. Why would anyone want to cycle around crappy back roads or busy main roads for hours at a time on a bicycle they ask. The answer is twofold and is both external and internal.
Externally it can be relatively easy to see why people cycle. Their bodies take on a leaner physique and their shape changes. They look lean and healthy relative to their previous sedentary body shape.
Internally it is not quite as obvious. Out on a bike the social aspect is strong. Friendships formed whilst under physical duress are deeper. This is important but it is the solo aspect that benefits even more. When you push your body hard you enter your own little world. Outside issues disappear like snow melting on an open fire. All that consumes you is where you are and what you are doing right there in that moment.
You learn how to conquer your internal dialogue and that is where everything else comes from.
A Navy Seal team commander once said that Internal words are the most important things you ever have to master and develop. You can use your internal dialogue to bridge the gap between where you currently are in the World, mentally and physically to what is ultimately possible for you.
How does this work on a bike?
You are a big rider, over 90kg and the complete opposite of what would generally be termed a climber. Fellow cyclists say that you are no climber and you repeat the phrase to others and to yourself. Then one day you decide that you really want to be able to climb.
You loose a little weight, get down into the mid 80’s but you are still 20kg over a climbers weight and physically big so it really is only a token effort.
Then you focus on the mental side. Instead of avoiding climbs you seek them out. You tell yourself that you are a climber. You convince yourself that you are a climber.
When you are climbing and your lungs are burning, while your legs feel weighed down by lead you accept the pain and tell yourself that that pain is weakness leaving your body which is going to be replaced by strength. This means that the more pain you feel, the stronger you will become. You keep on going.
You learn to break climbs down. You don’t look up at how far to go to the top. You look 10 meters ahead and just focus on getting there. When you do, you focus another 10 meters ahead and focus on getting there. Eventually you reach the top. You are in pain but it is a good pain which is accompanied by a sense of satisfaction rarely experienced by those who question your why and never push themselves to find out what is possible. One day you decide to face cyclings’ toughest climbing challenge and one day you climb the height of Mount Everest in a single day on your bike.
Cycling teaches you how to be positive with yourself, how to dream and make those dreams come true. Life is too short to ignore your potential and that is why so many are drawn to cycling and why so many cyclists live ordinary lives that are anything but ordinary. No matter what level your dreams may aspire to, you alone know what your dreams are, and you alone may know when they come true, but you are living a fuller life every time you throw your leg over that saddle.
Keep dreaming, and Keep cycling !!!