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Why do I love cycling?


By Benjamin Lyon

Shortly after walking many of us put the feet to the pedals, racing down the neighbourhood sidewalks either on trikes or, yes, those famous plastic versions, Big-wheels. They had that big front wheel and two small ones at the rear, both plastic so the sound they made was a rhythmic scrapping as they awkwardly took off down the streets, leaving the parents behind. Who remembers their first real two wheeled bike? Those first days of learning, some one us used training wheels; others, like myself had more of a trial and error experience. I learned on a dark purple, classic framed mini-tank of a thing, my parents had picked up at a garage sale. Its life was short lived though when, carelessly, I had left laying under the back bumper of the car. Chevrolet turned it from a childís bike into modern art. Sorry, I need to pause here, talking about it is like giving a eulogy.

No other toy, game, school playground, roller blades or latest trend gave me the memories or experiences that cycling has. There is the street races, stop sign to stop sign, or just random accelerations past your friend, pushing each other in the most innocent way, laughing. When the neighbourhoods had a garage sale, it was the bike that got me through the crowds, allowing first dibs at the best houses or it carried me to the corner store on allowance day. But times changed and so did I.

As the years carried on the bikes I rode brought forth a lot of new experiences. Friends and I would head up to a little junior sized BMX loop, hitting each little roller or drop, comparing height, slurping a slushy and getting any new clothes mom bought efficiently dirtied. Then we climb up a hill at beside where the track sat and while helmet-less and with a with the reckless mentality, only found in those less than 13 years old, barrelled down the hill, full speed, considering the brakes some sort impediment to our developing masculinity. The hill as most park areas nowadays was eventually built over by the contagious spread of suburbia. By this point I was at another point of change, but itís sad when you know that the next round of kids will be confined to their Playstation and Cineplex, built on the grounds where children rode.

Like I said, things moved on, changed. No longer did I play hockey, or sign up for little league, I skiied instead, game sports turned into individual pursuits; rowing, running, hiking, and with change everywhere the enjoyment of the bike still stood its ground, not to be given up.

From the BMX track, I turned to the forest trails, single track on fully ridged bikes, just for the pure pleasure and freedom of riding; exploring, feeling free, no curfews, no peer pressure, no chores, just a trail, and a bike. The same trail I would run on, I biked, in a city park built along the length of an old railroad system. Weaving in and out of trees and rocks, up and over logs, even when the route was the same, the feeling was always unique.

Time, once again, brought more change. Running was now competitive with the school cross country team, and my interest in fitness took hold, it ingrained itself into the excitement of my sports. Some might see that as the fun losing its simplicity, but for me it just gave it one more thing to enjoy, a foundation. What used to be just a childís funhouse was now an ever expanding castle of interest.

When youíre young, you tend to act as if the world revolves around you, that everything is there for you, and any attempt to counter that view was incomprehensible. But as I grow older, I no longer can look inward, because life teaches you to look outward and forward. Itís in those early stages that life hopefully teaches you to think beyond the boundaries set by past authority; to ask the important and pivotal questions; to learn about yourself and about the world you once thought was your kingdom to reign as that innocently, ignorant eight year old.

Now I cycle much longer rides, which grow longer and more frequent, the cranks continue to turn, but with far more grace and speed, pushing me faster and faster each time, often dangerously so. So when as why I love cycling, the only reason to come forward is that itís like a best friend and like old friends I have had fights with my bikes, fights which have given me a concussion and several scars and numerous near death experiences. My bike rides have showed me more places and taught me more things than I can list; I have meet people though my bikes; I have also found jobs with them and vacationed with them; and just as friends do, it also has grown with me. The relationship now is far less innocent and is taken less for granted; nonetheless, what remains is the knowing that every time I cross a leg over the saddle and clip my shoes into the pedals, itís going to be a fun time out, with a faithful friend. That is why I love cycling.


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