We shall not cease from exploration. And at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T S Elliot
At the beginning it was just for fun and then I needed the bike for transport from A to B but now cycling serves other less prosaic purposes that help to keep me sane and to a degree fit – can there be any greater rewards?
In my early teens bikes were an essential form of transport for my paper round as well as getting to friends and school. However, something else was happening as I regularly took off just for the fun of it, enjoying the freedom cycling provides and increasingly the physical challenge, which led to racing aspirations. Unfortunately I was too young to obtain a racing ’ticket’ and therefore chose to pursue other sports but also started cycle touring. Today my cycling is almost always for fun, engaging with the world slowly as I ride along and getting some useful exercise at the same time. As well as the sheer pleasure of feeling the air rush by as I pedal and if lucky, the warmth of the sun, I find looking carefully around adds significantly to the experience.
When it comes to speed I’m finding less is more, with greater enjoyment gained from just passing through the landscape under my own steam on this wonderfully simple invention – the bike. Local and touring rides engender different emotions that contribute to the cycling experience in similar but nonetheless contrasting ways.
Day rides from home soon become very familiar, passing along the same stretch of road year-after-year and through the seasons. Notwithstanding, therein lies the enjoyment and it is rarely boring. The combination of familiar places gradually changing and the contrast between winter and summer provide an evolving and interesting landscape which leads to different experiences and feelings. As I continue to recover from last year’s TKR operation I have had to cycle less miles at lower speeds but in so doing I both see more and have learnt a greater appreciation of just being out on the bike.
Cycle touring is an altogether different experience: people, places, countries, customs, cultures etc. all undertaken at a slower touring pace that is all the more satisfying as I inexorably progress over long distances. I often look back across the landscape over which I have just ridden with a deep sense of satisfaction. When undertaken using a tent for accommodation the combination of self-propelled transport and self-sufficiency is even more beguiling.
In all cases but in different ways cycling is a very pleasing form of exploration and discovery. Literally in the case of touring but in more enduring ways too that cumulatively provide insight into my own life journey. This is the beauty and reward of my life on a bike.
To be continued ………………………….