“Don’t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. You will be very glad that you did.” – Alexander Supertramp
I turn sixty tomorrow. This is one of the big birthdays and so I’m feeling a bit introspective. If life is a horse race, I’m at the quarter pole heading for home. With each passing year, the physical aspects of life will get a little tougher. The decline won’t be linear, either. It’s not something I worry about. It’s inevitable and there’s a certain wisdom in it. The beauty of the bicycle is that it helps keep these things at bay a little longer.
I’ve cycled a lot over the past few years. I’ve gone close to one thousand days and 34,000 miles without taking a day off. Sometime later this month I’ll reach that milestone and I’ll keep going. I don’t plan to ever take a day off again. It will almost certainly happen but I see no reason to rush it. After one thousand days, why would I? To rest? If I needed rest I would have needed it long before now.
Some people might look at my cycling and think that this is an obsession or a compulsion and I certainly understand why they might think that. It’s not, though. Obsessions and compulsions are things you think you have to do. This is something I want to do. Big difference. To ride a bicycle outside, even in inclement weather, is never drudgery. It is always pure joy. Obsessions and compulsions, on the other hand, are like being in a tunnel with no end. This is not that. This is also why I will never confuse pedaling an indoor stationary bicycle with cycling.
That’s no small point. One thing I’ve learned is that if you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle, you need to find an activity or activities that you truly love. If you don’t, you just won’t stick with it long enough. This is where most people fall down. They think they have to do what other people tell them they should instead of doing what brings them joy. That’s tragic. This isn’t hard. Just find what you love and do it. Listen to your own voice…the one deep inside. It already knows what you want and need.
My heroes have always been people who eschewed conventional wisdom and followed the road less traveled. They don’t share much else in common, but they share that. I long ago figured out that most people don’t want what’s best for me. They just want me, through my actions, to validate what they already believe. I’ll pass. They can believe whatever they want. It’s not my job to validate it or tell them it’s okay to settle for comfort at the expense of life, freedom and joy. That’s their choice. They need to own it.
As I turn sixty, I believe more than ever that cycling is the answer to a lot of things that ail us both individually and collectively. Cycling will make us healthy in body, mind and spirit. Cycling makes our shared spaces more livable, our air cleaner, our cities safer, our children healthier and more able to learn. Cycling saves a ton of money. It helps us sleep better. The list goes on and on and on.
And so I still want to find a way to make cycling my life’s work. I mean, why wouldn’t I? What else could I do that could help so many other people live better lives? I don’t care what it pays as long as it pays enough to keep me fed and warm on those cold winter nights. I’m running out of runway. I’d better figure this out soon.
Until I do, I’m going to continue cycling, even if it makes the vast majority of people around me uncomfortable. I’m afraid I have a one lane dirt track mind. I’m going to embrace the beauty of the natural and give thanks to God above for sharing this world with me. It has been a blessing. It has been a joy. I’m not giving it up. Not now. Not ever.