Typecast or not typecast… that is the question. I actually started typing this post on the Skyriter while in the hotel after I had posted a comment on Twitter (which got Specialized to follow me… which is very cool) about cycling. I… I think I’m not going to typecast this post. So… here we go.
There are a few major things that hold my love. First and foremost is my partner (and our family). But two others battle it out on a near daily basis: typewriters and cycling. And right now, I want to talk about the latter.
Cycling is dangerous. But not in the traditional sense. It is dangerously good. Sure, there is the possibility of physical harm, but I feel there are a lot of “loves” that can cause that. What I mean by “dangerously good” is that without you knowing, you suddenly become addicted and through that you become healthy in some way — almost the anti-definition of what often being addicted to something implies. It is “dangerously” addictive but the results are oh-so-good.
I’ve never been good at sports or fitness. I either don’t like the idea of the competition or it simply doesn’t hold my attention. I rather fancy myself as a numbers person, a mathematician. So, I guess, I fall into a kind of stereotypical mold. But that doesn’t bother me — not sure why it should…
But cycling is different. Cycling is a sport in as much as a discipline and a lifestyle. I am not sure the same could be said for football, soccer, golf, rugby, ultimate Frisbee, swimming, or a handful of other sports — or more. Cycling is a sport of the highest level, complete with a long history, old events, worldwide recognition, an Olympic placement (that includes several events), world championships, and an illustrious history of drug abuse and drama. I think that defines a sport rather well… don’t you?
I feel like I needn’t explain why it is a discipline but for the sake of completeness: cycling is one of the best cardiovascular exercises one can do. Not only can you get a cardiovascular work out and thus strengthen your heart (and increase your overall health), but it also works out your core muscles. I’m a road cyclist. And in the typical position, people often think we hold ourselves up with our arms, placing weight upon our palms, etc. This is true — but only to some extent. Because we, in fact, if trained properly, actually use our back and core muscles to hold ourselves up mostly. This allows us to be light on the pedals, keep pressure off our palms, and all sorts of good things! (That is a little known fact, it seems…) The saddle is there for us to just sit, the bars the guide the front wheel. A road bike (really, any bike) is a near perfect example of how man and machine can meld seamlessly.
Now… cycling is a lifestyle. This point can go on for hours, if not days and weeks. Cycling is all consuming because of one simple fact: it is a form of transportation. This applies all too well to joggers, runners, walkers, etc. You can’t be transported with a soccer ball or a football or a Frisbee or a golf ball or… But it isn’t just transportation: it’s a totally different mindset. You see things differently all together. You see curbs and streets and sidewalks and other things as avenues to get from point A to point B with as little effort as possible (and as safely as possible). Little lines start forming as you pedal along, showing you possible routes of where to go: you become your own GPS, knowing the streets, the drivers, the environment, far better than any driver or pedestrian ever possibly could. This teaches so many things… so many. Self discipline. Strategy. Planning. Safety. Not to mention cycling skills like bunny hopping, tactical up/downshifting, and accurate bike handling skills.
Every cyclist has a road they take. Some route they adore or aspire to conquer with the grace and agility of their idols. My road is a bit complicated, to say the least, but mine is paved by none other than Olympic medalists. I have AFib and Mitral Valve Prolapse. An Australian triathlete by the name of Erin Densham won the bronze medal in the London 2012 Olympics after defeating a heart issue that causes a racing heartbeat. Mine simply doesn’t beat steadily. But if she can conquer the Olympics with a heart issue (even if corrected with surgery), why can’t I?
My road certainly isn’t the Olympics but instead to… simply live and enjoy life. AFib isn’t a death sentence if managed. That is my motivation. That is my drive. Cycling is my life but not because I rely on it for fitness, to exercise my heart, but because it gives me the drive to learn self discipline, to strategize over how to do things better, how to plan my dietary low cholesterol/low(er) sodium needs, and to safely carry all these things out.
I am many things. But always in the top 3 things that come to mind — even if my body doesn’t reflect it! — is that I’m a cyclist.
I am a cyclist.