Earlier, I talked about how I got into cycling. I didn’t touch on why I bike though, which is a much more important topic!
There are many different reasons why I ride ranging from surface level “it’s fun” reasons, to deep “purposeful” reasons. I started typing out this list without any regard for numbers. Incidentally, I came up with 21 reasons…1 for every year of life so far!
- Is fun.Jumping on my bike and riding off with the wind against my face is exhilarating. Traveling around town on my bike makes every day feel like an adventure.
- Is simple.Unlike cars, bikes are simple. There are no Thermal Reactors or Harmonic Compensators. All the parts needed to make the bike work are visible without much investigation.
- Is a great way to get moving.There’s no better way to wake up in the morning than to jump on my bike and go for a ride. Likewise, when my day is stuck in a rut, jumping on the bike and riding around the block is a great way to get moving.
- Keeps me in great shape.When biking everywhere you need to go means you’re doing >100 miles a week, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to stay in shape.
- Saves gas money.With the national average gas price being $3.33 as of writing this post, gas is terribly expensive. I didn’t start biking specifically to save on gas, but it is a welcomed benefit. Going back through my checking account, I’ve spent $60 in the last 4 months on gas. That’s just over 18 gallons of gas used in 4 months
- Always gives me the opportunity to challenge myself.Should I ride for speed? Should I try to do the whole trip without touching the handlebars? Should I see how many miles I can do in a day?
These are the questions I’m constantly asking myself when I’m on my bike. Some challenges may seem silly (I did make it all the way across town without ever touching the handlebars!), but the opportunity to push my limits is always available. I don’t always have to take it, but it’s always there.
- Teaches me to always be alert to my surroundings.Riding forces me to pay attention to lots of variables to keep safe. In addition to all the things you have to pay attention to while driving, there’s tree branches, rocks, potholes, and unaware drivers to look out for. This focus translates well into other areas of my life by teaching me to be aware of unseen circumstances
- Is easy on the body compared to many other forms of exercise.I compete in a lot of different sports in addition to lifting weights and other things done on my own. I love competing, but it can add up and put unhealthy strain on my body. Biking is a great exercise that doesn’t have the same level of impact as other sports.
- Lets me spend more time outdoors.I love being outside. This was one of the main factors adding up to getting a bike. Biking everywhere allows me to be outdoors more instead of moving around in a box closed off from nature.
- Gives me satisfaction knowing I used my muscles to transport myself.There’s something so satisfying in getting to your destination and knowing you propelled yourself there.
- Is much easier to fix than all the moving parts of a car. (See #2)Cars are quite complicated. Any repair more serious than an oil change usually means one of three things. Intricate understanding of mechanics, sending it off to a shop, or trying to follow a complicated manual. In addition, all cars are different and each one has different parts and configurations. It’s true that all bikes are also different and some repairs may take a bit of knowledge and/or tools. Most bikes are configured similarly though, so once you learn, it will always come back to you. It’s as if “it’s like riding a bike.”
- Allows me to see my world from a new perspective.The world got somewhat foreign from inside the walls of my car. Getting outside allows my to see things from a completely different angle.
- Is completely worth it if all I get in return is the look on people’s face when I tell them I don’t drive places.This point deserves story time:Once upon a time, I pondered the drearily waterlogged scene that awaited me outside the front lobby of my gym. I was just finishing my mental preparation for the wet ride ahead when someone came up beside me. He asked in horror if I “had” to “ride home in that downpour?” Did he think I would melt away thanks to the rain as if I were the Wicked Witch of the West? No, that couldn’t be, I thought to myself, as I had no pointy hat or big nose. “Heck yes,” I responded gleefully, as I opened the front door. As I turned to say bye, I witnessed a look of terror on his face unrivaled by few horror film actors.Ok, that was just an excuse to practice my story writing skills. But seriously, it’s pretty fun to see people’s reaction when I tell them I ride my bike everywhere.
- Keeps me from getting comfortable.Being comfortable is what many spend their whole life chasing. Being comfortable isn’t what grows us though. Sometimes we have to get a little uncomfortable if we want to truly succeed. These two posts do a way better job at describing this than I ever could:
Read this: Never be comfortable
And then this: Discomfort
- Helps me realize that just because people say things are impossible, doesn’t mean they are.There‘s a lot of things out there that seem impossible to people. It’s different for each person, but this can be anything from getting a six-pack, to writing a book, to living car-free. When you start doing one of these “impossible“ things, people will inevitably tell you its not right/safe/realistic/possible/whatever else. Biking has made me realize the only way to find out if they‘re right or not is to actually do it. More often times than not, it‘s not really as impossible as it seems. Advice is great, but you just have to be careful about whose advice you listen to.See this: Things they have no right to tell you
- Inspires others to take steps towards their health.Getting on my bike give me the opportunity to inspire others to do the same or figure out their own ways of getting in better shape. If biking inspires others (which it has) and continues to be an inspiration (I’m hoping it will), then it’s all worth it.
- Teaches me to pack lightly.When I go places, I can’t really haul a ton of stuff. At first it seems like a curse and something to be overcome, but after a bit it turns to a blessing. It’s led me to realize I don’t really need that much stuff, and that it’s way more relaxing to not be buried in things. The following post isn’t about cycling specifically, but it’s about clutter, and applies exactly to what I’ve come to realize: Living simply
- Forces me to slow down and “smell the roses.“Slowing down and not rushing does wonders for stress levels and health. Being on a bike forces me to slow down and not rush. I can only go as fast as my legs will allow, and sometimes that’s pretty slow.
- Has made me much more patient.In conjunction with the last number, riding places by bike is obviously slower than driving. That difference in speed though has helped me to develop more patience. Whether it be with friends, strangers, or time itself, I find myself being way more patient in other areas of life.
- Doesn’t contribute to smog/pollution/rising gas prices.Gas is expensive and the air in some places are terrible. I don’t pay for very much gas as is illustrated in #5. Here in the Central Valley of California, the air is pretty bad, but at least I can say I don’t contribute to it near as much as others. Whatever environmental issue irks you, commuting by bike on a large scale can help fix that.
- Has eliminated any “road rage.”When I ride, there’s a handful of drivers that don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. There are lots of great drivers too, but that small percentage of unaware drivers gets real annoying, real quick. It doesn’t do much good to get angry with them because by the time I get angry, they’re long gone.
If any of these reasons sound like a good enough reason to you to get a bike and ride, biking might just be for you. Just a thought though.
For anyone who asks why I choose to bike when I could just as easily drive, this list is a good start. Actually sitting down and writing this really helped put my thoughts into something concrete.
The real question here though is-
When was the last time you sat down and actually thought about why you do what you do?