Have you spent much time around a 3 year old? If you have, you know that one of their favorite words is “why?” and can you blame them? Being three, you are quite limited on how the world works and everything in it… so of course, you are going to ask “why?” Curiosity is the footprint of man. Of course, you never have to stop asking why at any age. The truth is, we never really learn how everything works, including ourselves.
The strangest and one of the most common of all questions on the bike is “why do you ride?” This is a logical question usually asked after a long gut punching ride. Face it! Cyclists do not look good after a long, challenging, sweaty ride. It is a logical question with so many varied answers each as individual as the bikes we ride. I cannot answer for every rider, just myself.
I was a tom boy growing up (you are not surprised by this). I played every sport and to the dismay of my mother resisted all things “girly.” In adulthood, I struck a balance between a shoe loving, nail polished chick and a gritty, sweaty, pedal-pushing cyclist (mom is still disappointed—oh well). On a normal day, I have more energy bound up inside me than two Dalmatians running circles in a yard. If that is not enough, my mind goes at 90mph all day. Forget walks in the park, forget water aerobics, unless it is an hour of pain, sweating and suffering, it is NOT going to wear me out.
The bike not only breaks down my lactic acid threshold but it wears down my mind. A 36-mile ride is about what it takes to have all the conversations in my head with all the things I am confronted with on a daily basis meant to make me feel like less of a person…”why aren’t you married?”, “why don’t you have kids?”, “what is your next career move?”, “why didn’t you go to law school?”, “when are you going to quit this bike thing?”…and in my head I respond in proper order the answers I would really like to give if I had my wits about me…”I was married and when I do it again, it will not be because I think it is the next logical step but because I believe I can grow old and love someone as much as I could ever love someone and they can do the same for me,”… “I don’t have kids because I believe it takes two parents who are ready to sacrifice themselves—I do not want to do it alone,”… “my next career move is the best guess of anyone but I promise, it will not suck,”… “If I had gone to law school, I would likely be an unhappy nasty attorney that people would avoid at parties” and “quit this bike thing? Not anytime soon unless my legs fall off in my sleep.”
All the while these conversations are playing a reel in my head, I will come to realize at some point, that I have gone several miles, conquered multiple hills, and likely reached speeds exceeding 30mph. I push through the rides hoping to reach a new level each and every time. I never tire of the pursuit to push through and feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with most rides. I chase after the perfect ride every time I step out my front door.
Everyone rides for his or her own reasons. I know women who use the bike as a cute puppy hoping to meet that perfect guy while I know men who ride for the sheer primal testosterone love. For some it is a simple hobby like knitting or bird watching. For others, like myself, it becomes a necessary part of life, a coping mechanism that makes those “why” moments make sense. We can learn a lot from three-year olds.