Freedom, fitness, fun… beer? Why do you ride?

Here are my top six reasons, now tell me yours

After decades of riding bikes, I can’t give you a single reason why I keep turning the pedals. But I can list a few.

I remember laughing at the question of an elderly woman seated next to me on a plane after I explained my job testing bikes and gear. “You mean you have to ride all those bikes?” she asked with concern. “Have to? I get to!”

Why ride a bike?

It makes me feel good. An array of scientific theories have come (and some have gone) as to why exercise makes us feel better — endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, even endocannabinoids (yes, related to cannabis) — but I’m not really concerned with the chemistry behind it, just the end result: I almost always feel better when riding and after riding than I did before.

Exploring and engaging with the world. As a kid, a bike was a ticket to freedom. It still is. Sure, you can get there faster in the protective encasement of a car, but that is missing the point.

Beer and reality. I’m 40. At this point in the game, I have three options: stop drinking beer, buy larger jeans every so often as my waistline expands, or just exercise regularly. I’m too Irish for the first and too cheap for the second. And hey, riding bikes is fun.

I enjoy the interactivity of group rides. It's faster, more dynamic and a lot more fun than riding alone
I enjoy the interactivity of group rides. It's faster, more dynamic and a lot more fun than riding alone

Interactive challenge. I love the various games we play on bikes, whether that’s pinning numbers on for amateur events or just racing each other to a random marker on the road. Solo challenges interest me, too, but the real draw is the group dynamics: the paceline, the attacks, the counters, even just trying to find the perfect spot and position in the draft.

Friends. Having worked from the home office (read: my couch) for five years now, I’m basically feral. And with two busy kids and a wife who also works full-time, hanging out with the guys isn’t really a thing anymore. Although I also enjoy solo rides, my bike time usually doubles as social time.

Variable-ratio rewards. Some days are better than others. Some days you get a tailwind, or a clean run at that fun downhill without traffic. Some days you get a headwind and a flat tire. But you never know exactly what you’ll find until you saddle up and head out.

How about you? What gets you on the bike? Let us know in the comments below.

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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