Among the many practical reasons given about why we should ride bikes, such as weight management, endurance training, overall health improvement, and saving money on gasoline, one of the most practical is seldom discussed. It’s fun.
Having fun is one of the important things that keeps us sane in our increasingly stressful modern world. Enjoying life can be hard with all the pressures we feel day to day, so having an emotional outlet for simple pleasures can be the difference between being a well-adjusted person and a nutter.
Sadly, not all cyclists enjoy themselves while on two wheels. For them, each ride is a challenge to always go faster or further, to climb higher or pedal longer. As soon as their butt hits the seat they push themselves to their maximum physical limits. When their rides are done, they are completely drained.
Although I am adamant that I cycle hard for parts of every ride, there are also long, leisurely segments where I enjoy the countryside. I’ll stop to watch a flock of birds taking off or landing, or maybe just to stare in wonder at hop or blueberry fields. I like to chat with riding partners about things other than cycling. I’m never bored on my bike.
When kids get on their bicycles and race off to an adventure, they use their bikes as merely a means to an end. Biking is simply a part of what they do to play. Playing is what matters, not the bike.
It’s well known that play and health are linked. The better you are at playing, the more likely you are to be in good physical and mental condition. But playing is more than just running or riding, it includes the element of fun. There’s always a light-heartedness included in the act of playing.
Too many adults take riding, as well as the rest of their lives, far too seriously. I can’t. Cycling is too joyful.
Often I catch myself riding along with a big, stupid smile on my face for no reason. I’ve even been known to simply burst out laughing like a crazy person while on my bike. But I’m not crazy. I’m just having some fun.
© Mark Everett Hall 2011