There is more to life than cycling. That might seem like a strange thing for a bike journalist to say, but it’s true.
My livelihood depends on readers like you buying bikes. I exist to trickle oil onto Big Bike’s delicate freehub pawls, to pump grease into capitalism’s ready nipple.
I need you to read about bikes, think about bikes, and buy bikes. But please do other stuff too.
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Cycling is a glorious, beautiful thing. In many ways, it has transformed my life. It’s taken me to incredible places, given me physical fitness and a career, and introduced me to lifelong friends and my soon-to-be wife.
I also love bicycles themselves, first as a mode of transport, but also as machines.
I didn’t really come to cycling for the sport, originally. My first bicycle as an adult was an absolutely awful Emmelle mountain bike that I bought to ride to university in Edinburgh.
As someone who always enjoyed tinkering, I quickly decided that I needed to make it better, or at least less of a deathtrap, which meant fixing the brakes and putting non-lethal tyres on it.
Being terminally acquisitive, I quickly outgrew the pig iron special, and in my first two years of cycling, I bought a further nine bikes, two of which I still own more than a decade later.
I experienced full-blown obsession and, during this time, my every waking thought seemed to be interrupted by carbon frame daydreams and freehub fancies.
On the one hand, I was revelling completely in my new found love of riding and experiencing a level of physical fitness I’d never come close to before, but on the other, I was driven by a nakedly materialistic urge to buy and buy and buy new things.
I was never content with what I had and fretted constantly about expensive ways to upgrade my gear.
Since then, a privileged position in the bike industry has afforded me the ability to step back slightly and be more thoughtful in my choices. I’m lucky enough that I get to ride lots of bikes and try all sorts of kit without committing to it financially.
This has had the curious effect of almost completely killing my acquisitive urges (at least in the realm of cycling). Where once I was fixated on the new and shiny, I now prize the familiar and comfortable above all.
The bikes I enjoy the most are not necessarily the most technologically advanced and expensive, but rather those that I’ve spent enough time riding to have formed a bond with them, customising them to my needs and (go on, cringe) making memories on them.
If you look at the Instagram feed of anyone involved in cycling, it’s easy to be tricked into thinking that they live and breathe bikes to the exclusion of everything else because that’s the image they’ve chosen to project to the world.
Yes, #outsideisfree and it’s great that you’re out riding in all weathers, but it’s also okay not to.
I don’t want to diminish anyone’s enjoyment of cycling, whether that comes from doing massive rides or obsessing over componentry.
But I do think that there is more to life than just cycling, and I think not letting a single pastime rule your life is probably healthier.
Don’t feel like going for a ride? Okay, don’t. Spend some time with a loved one instead. Rub your dog’s belly. Make a pie.
There is no reward in heaven for miles logged or KOMs claimed. If those metrics are the things that motivate you then that’s absolutely fine, but I’d still encourage all riders to be self-critical about their motivations.
Are you doing big miles because you want to or because you feel like you should? Are you shopping for a new bike because it’s going to make a meaningful difference to your riding or because you need the dopamine rush of an expensive purchase to fill the keening void at the centre of your being?
Life is not one-dimensional. Bicycles are truly splendid, but there’s a whole world of other things out there to experience.
Please keep riding bikes and reading about them on BikeRadar dot com, but don’t just do those things. Be a rounded human being and sample all of life’s pleasures. You only get one go at this.