Reasons are as varied and inspirational as the cyclists that comprise the BicyclingHub.com community
Last week, we ran another fun contest on BicyclingHub's Facebook page with the open-ended question, "Why do you love cycling?" The topic generated over 36 short essay responses that spoke directly to the wonder, freedom, and liberation we often experience during a ride. What moved us most, though, were our readers' testimonials about getting a second lease on life and making every moment count. They also serve as a reminder that it's never too late to start, and enjoying the simple pleasures a bicycle ride can yield.
Congratulations to Robert P. for his WINNING ENTRY in our contest. If you're in the Pacheco, California area, look for Robert riding around town sporting his NEW BicyclingHub.com Jersey by Castelli and loving the ride!
"In April of 2009 I was having pain / soreness in my chest. I went to the doctor and he took an x-ray. A went back for the x-ray consult and the doctor said, "we need to talk". "We found a spot on your right lung". I was SCARED to death and immediately broke out into a cold sweat. After my consultation, I went to my car and threw out a brand new pack of cigarettes. YES, I was 47 years old and a 30+ year smoker. I immediately went to my LBS and bought a comfort bike. Was doing 10 miles, then 20, etc. 3-4 times a week. My doctor called me a month later and said, "let's do an MRI to make sure it's a spot on your lung, etc.". It ended up being a large mole on my back that appeared on the xray as being a spot on my lung. OMGoodness was I relieved. I bought a drop bar road bike and got very serious. Long story short, I rode 6000 miles in 2010, did Levi's Gran Fondo, did the MS Waves to Wine, ride up Mt. Diablo at least the junction at least twice a week, did the Mt Diablo challenge in 73 minutes. OH YEAH, I was 225 pounds and 6'0". I am now 185 pounds and still 6'0". CYCLING HAS CHANGED / EXTENDED MY LIFE. I'm a new, happier, more relaxed, skinnier, more energetic, etc. person thanks to cycling. I rode in my twenties and LOVED it. Wish I had never quit cycling." -Robert P.
"Growing up cycling, I took for granted the reason for riding. For me, it was just a way to keep up with my big brother. During the teen years, it was a way for me to talk with my parents, tackling hard subjects while battling wet roots and mud. Cycling was my escape from the reality of working and college. It was cheap and needed no one but my own self. I lost the path for a while. Then, a friend asked me about mountain biking and asked me to teach her. The joy on her face as she rolled her first obstacle made me want to get more people to ride. Since then, I've converted 5 women into bike nuts. We go out and hit the trails, rain or shine. Through heartbreak, injuries, and the general crazyness of life, a bikeride will always provide an answer." ~Gretchen V. S.
"I realized that after having my children I was in danger of 'losing' myself in motherhood - so I got on a bike for sanity, exercise and fun:) " ~Joanna P. P.
"I'd been working 10 miles from home for 4 years, and driving back and forth every day,when I saw a coworker who lived 16 miles away biking to work. He was 20 years my junior, but when gas went to $4/gal., 3 summers ago, I decided it was time for me to start biking to work again. That year, I did it less than 10 times, the next year, over 20, and this year, I bicycled to work 48 times. Next year, I'll try to do my age, which will be 56 years young." ~Irene L. O.
"My boss. He was relentless on how I needed to start biking like him. I bought a Wal-Mart bike and took one water bottle to a rail trail to get back on a bike after 30 years. I did not want to go to work and tell him I did not do the whole 32 mile loop. As a result I barely made it back to the car. Dehydrated and exhausted, I struggled to get the bike in the back of my van. I did not know a butt could swell. That was the beginning 10 years ago. Now I own 2 road bikes and 5 mtn bikes which cost more than my van and love cycling as the main passion in my life." ~Kelly B.
"In August 2008, I was 240 pounds and dreadfully out of shape. It didn't really bother me though until I watched a marathon of Gene Kelly movies. I was in absolute awe of how fit the man was at the same age I was, and disgusted at the fact I could barely waddle across the room. A few months later, a co-worker died of a weight-related issue, and I realized I could be joining her if I didn't do something.
I somehow mounted the stationary bike (darn Wisconsin winter) and stuck with it five days a week until spring, when I remembered my broken 1993 Trek mountain bike sitting sadly in the corner. Turns out it just needed a tune-up. I did everything wrong that first ride (got my pants caught in the sprocket) and couldn't make it up the baby hill. But again, I pedalled on, and was soon doing 15 miles several times a week, ending with 900 miles in 2009. In March of this year I was diagnosed with diabetes, and found out how important exercise is to managing the disease. Biking has become essential to staying healthy. Training for two half-marathons brought my mileage down a little to 700 this year, but I still rode 40 miles for 40 years, and made it up two monster hills in my area. I now weigh 170, feel fabulous, and am determined to keep pedaling (hopefully on a new cross-bike!)" ~Patty G.
"On January 1, 2010 I took a long hard look at where I was and where I was going. At 6'1" I weighed in at 293 pounds. I suffered from sleep apnea, high blodd pressure and high cholesterol. I have a family history of bad habits and early-age heart disease. I knew that I could go one of two ways - to an early grave or a complete turn into a healthy lifestyle. Having two wonderful kids and a lovely wife, I decided I wanted to stick around for a few more years. I bought a $250 used Fuji road bike on Craigslist and set out to ride in the middle of winter. My first ride - 11 miles - proved to me just how unfit I was. I couldn't walk very well the next day. Instead of giving up, I got back up the next morning and did it all over again. I reached out to the local cycling club and struck up some friendships with other area cyclists. They took me under their wing, got me involved in their beginner group and showed me lots of patience as I slowly worked my way up the hills of middle Tennessee. As time wore on, I saw my weight dropping and my stamina increasing.
"I wanted to sexy for my hubby and healthy for me!" Tona J-G
"Y'all will think this is nuts. I got a bike soto ride a ways from the house so I could smoke without my kids seeing me smoke (didn't want to set a bad example). Over time, I began to enjoy the riding more than the smoking, so I quit smoking and started riding more. The rest, as they say, is history. Crazy, I know - truth is stranger than fiction." ~Paul L.
"I was diagnosed with Arthritis about 3 years ago and the more I read about it losing weight and low impact exercise was the key to living a better life. Cycling was the answer for me and now it’s a life style. I turned 50 this year and for my birthday I spent the day cycling best dam birthday present I have ever gave myself!" ~Joe G.
"Because my husband didn't want me to! Had to finally ditch him in order to take my first cross country biking trip! :) "~Meg R.
"Because I was so pissed off about being injured from a car wreck that I decided to stay strong by training for tri's and fell in love with cycling!!!" ~Jennifer B. K.
"My husband has been a cyclist and triathlete for years, and I needed to do something that we both could do together, so instead of just hanging out a movie together then dinner, we now can go for a ride together and have lunch or just coffee on the way. Great Fitness, great outings. Families who play together stay together." ~Jane B.
"Truly by accident, I was looking into a scooter to commute 2 work and found a bicycle instead. Commuting by bicycle to work has really helped me in my life, in which I am truly grateful." ~Michael M.
"The first time I was on a "two-wheeler" bike I was four. After one trip down the street I came home and told me dad to remove the training wheels, then I rode up and down the street all day nonstop. I was a four year old in love!! I wanted to ride my bike all around the world, from one side of the country to the other. This feeling comes over me every time I ride. I can't get enough. This year, in the last six months alone I've logged more than 4,000 miles. It is still my dream to ride coast to coast. There is no substitute for the freedom and the power I feel with the wind blowing behind me, the rain falling down on me and the scents of pine while riding through the mountains. I just love it!!! And, by the way ... just saying ... I ride a Klein and it is beautiful .. and I am so proud of my bike and would love to ride with a new BicyclingHub jersey!!!!!" ~Rose E.
"Because I was bored working ladies fashions for REI and wanted to switch to the cycling department where I could meet cute, slim dudes!" ~Julia A. B.