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tara: ten things i’ve learned from cycling

October 11, 2010

Over the course of this blog, I’ve received so many wonderful and enthusiastic emails from readers at various points of their ‘cycling life’. I love opening my inbox to find these messages because it’s precisely this that I love about blogging – the wonderful sense of community one gets to experience. In an effort to promote this sharing of information and inspiration, I have asked some cycling friends made via Simply Bike to send me their stories and photos. Today, I’m pleased to introduce Tara of Adelaide, South Australia. I think you’ll love Tara’s thoughts on cycling and her lovely bike-ready elegance as much as I do…

Ten Things I’ve Learnt: a newbie’s thoughts/realisations/epiphanies about cycling

I never before thought I would ever call myself a ‘cyclist’. First, I’m a home-body. I loved (and still do love!) being inside, reading, cooking, thinking, learning, and sipping tea from delicate teacups. Second, I am ridiculously uncoordinated. I am 5’11’’ with the balance, coordination and flexibility to match. But now – behold a changed woman!

Pictured here are Blue Betty and I. There is something irresistible about cycling and the way it can cheer up any bad mood – it’s impossible to ride Betty without a grin from ear-to-ear.

Cycling has changed my understanding of not only myself, but also my wider world, in a number of ways:

(1) I am not the ‘princess’ I thought I was. In fact, I’m kind of adventurous – a word I would never have used to describe myself. I like finding new paths. Moreover, I like taking the path less travelled. And surprisingly, rain, wind and the cold don’t necessarily stop me. I’ve also come to learn that I’m a little brave – I now even use the brakes less when coming down hills!

(2) In the same vein, I’m also capable. I can overcome challenges like a flooded foot-bridge…


…fallen trees…

and a foamed-up bridge!

(Sometimes, though, my adventures aren’t always so adventure-ey, like deliriously-successful op shopping sprees!)

(3) I am now part of a cycling community. My own previous misconception had me believe that the community is a segregated one, where racers rival cruisers. But, in reality, it’s nothing like this; indeed, cycling encourages diversity. I’ve had cyclists smile, nod with enthusiasm and even stop for a chat (particularly to give advice when struggling to use a bike lock!).

Maybe this is because cycling makes people happy, so cyclists tend to be happy. Or maybe it’s because we collectively share a secret that the pedestrians/motor vehiclists are missing out on. Whatever it is, cycling reminds me of something that I (and I’m sure lots of others, too) tend to forget: that people can be lovely.

(4) Surprisingly, cycling is actually pretty quick. My cycle into the city is probably faster than my usual bus trip and I now get home earlier than before.

(5) The inverse of this is that cycling can also be slow. I mean here that cycling slows the world down and demands that surroundings be enjoyed/experienced for what they are.

I ordinarily wouldn’t have seen these teeny-tiny baby swans (and chased away by their protective parents!)…

… or these cherry blossoms in full bloom…

… or some of my favourite childhood Christmas lights usually seen only in December!

(6) Like the realisation that I am capable, I have also come to learn that I am industrious and self-sufficient. The power of my body, muscles and will-power propel me to destinations I otherwise wouldn’t have thought I could travel by bike. Indeed, I can do all this and still carry with me my usual luxuries…sure, I do get some help from my super-snazzy basket.

Note that my basket here holds the following: pashmina, u-lock, laptop, notebook, pair of shoes (in shoebox) and water bottle!

(7) Cycling allows me (if not, encourages me) to assert my individual style. I don’t have to conform to a mandated cycling aesthetic. Instead, I can be colourful, quirky and fun – all whilst riding!

(8) Cycling awakens the creativity in me. I now want to photograph more and play with colours and embrace creativity in all areas of my life. It encourages me to look at the world differently and see beauty in things I ordinarily would have been rushing past. I feel inspired, awake and alert.

(9) Likewise, cycling also makes me more conscious of the weather and the outdoors. I am more aware of my interactions with the outside world and my impact upon it. But how could I not be when I encounter these views on my daily commute?

(10) Lastly, cycling makes me happy. It makes my skin glow, my mouth smile and my body and mind feel alive and awake!

Although I am all very new to cycling, I have fallen ridiculously in love with it! I’m equally excited and inspired to impose upon my own little corner of the world the ‘cyclechic’ mantra.

Thanks S., for letting me ‘guest blog’!

Happy cycling,

Thanks so much for the guest post, Tara! Happy riding to you and Blue Betty!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2010 12:20

    Beautiful bike, outfits, basket, helmets and enthusiasm!!! I just posted a question on someone elses blog asking them if it is because they ride, that they go to some unique destinations…and now you mention taking the road less traveled. I think it has a lot to do with it!
    Thanks S for encouraging Tara to write this. Now I will ponder what I have learned from riding a bike, I think quite a few ideas will be similar. What about you S?
    Hope you have off today, I do!

  2. October 11, 2010 19:07

    That would be “Australia.”

  3. October 11, 2010 20:35

    Excellent post! I hadn’t really thought about it before (and wouldn’t have guessed ahead of time), but cycling really does bring out more creativity in me. And so many of your other points are definitely applicable to me and I think to a lot of people, especially young women.

  4. October 11, 2010 23:03

    I can second #3; I learned to ride a bike much later than most people. When I started biking regularly, I immediately felt like I’d joined a friendly, secret club— cyclists ALWAYS smiled and nodded at me, and I sensed that we were always glancing at each other’s bikes and equipment. It made the world feel smaller and gentler….
    … which almost compensated for all the drivers honking or yelling at me.

  5. Hilda permalink
    October 12, 2010 22:45

    Great guest blog Tara!

    I must say, Tara is a friend of mine and has been encouraging me to start cycling (I haven’t cycled in about 13 years!). I’ve done a few short trips around my local area and am slowly building up my confidence (and my fitness!!). I’m really looking forward to becoming a regular cyclist!

    Thanks Tara for all your bike (and bike fashion) tips!


    • October 12, 2010 22:56

      Oh, that sounds so nice! Way to go Tara for being a good cycling enthusiast and good for you, Hilda, for getting back on the bike. I hope you keep enjoying your biking excursions around town! It’s great to feel like what used to be ‘long’ trips no longer have the same daunting or tiring effect and to see the benefits of commuting and working out at the same time. Hope you keep enjoying it! S.

  6. Muse permalink
    October 13, 2010 11:47

    Tara, you hit the nail on the head! Ten times! Many of us feel the same way about cycling but you elegantly put those thoughts into words. Look forward to reading more posts by you.

  7. October 13, 2010 23:04

    this is so funny, i JUST posted about my bike a few days ago… also named betty and also a cruiser! and so obviously popular ;)

  8. Tara permalink
    October 18, 2010 05:09

    Thank you everyone for such lovely comments!

    Maureen, have you thought any more about what you have learnt from riding? I was pretty surprised when S posed the question, but once I thought about it, I realised that I had actually learnt plenty! :)

    Jaime, I think there must be a reason why so many wonderful cycling blogs are written by creative and inspiring individuals – and the fact that cycling encourages creativity must be it!

    Rebekah, I smiled when I read your comment, because I also catch myself sneaking a look at other people’s bicycles (and the outfits that go with the bikes!). I particularly like your observation that it makes the world feel “smaller and gentler”. Ah, if only everybody, too, embraced cycling and all that it has to offer!

    Hilds, I’m equally excited that you’re embracing cycling as much as I am, and I can’t wait to go on ‘cycling excursions’ with you soon!

    Muse, thank you thank you thank you! I’m glad that I could put into words for you the joys and delights of cycling.

    Chai Am Woman, I checked out your Betty and she is very beautiful, indeed! :)

  9. October 25, 2010 17:36

    Oh, this post is so, so lovely! S., I’m so glad you linked back to it because I didn’t see this one earlier. Tara is so right–cycling makes people happy. And I love how cycling has taught her about her own strength and adventurousness. That is marvelous.

  10. Tara permalink
    October 26, 2010 05:16

    Thank you, Rose-Anne. I still wonder at the things I have learnt from cycling, and am grateful to S. for having let me explore these ideas. Happy cycling to you!

  11. November 19, 2010 22:53

    And “Some people make the world more special just by being in it”
    Thanks Tara for sharing your thoughts, very inspiring and i agree totally with all ten !!!
    happy cycling

  12. Cindy Growden permalink
    November 23, 2010 11:34

    Istarted riding again when my husband gave me a bike when I turned 41. I rode to our neighbours farm-all of 400m and damn near killed me. Then I rode to the end of our road(3km) then into our town (14kms return) and steadily built up the distances. When I turned 47 I rode with my brother and his wife from Qld to Melbourne. It was such agreat trip taking “unknown” scenic routes -its adventurous butyou still get your cappuchino. We had wonderful meals and lots of bakery stops guilt free !
    Next year its Italy with my husband as he’s now hooked too !

  13. Sonya permalink
    November 25, 2011 15:34

    You lovely cycling folk are wonderful! I started a commute to work back in 2000 at age 30 to get fit. I fell in love with it and made going to work so joyous. I continued to ride throughout my pregnancy at 33. Now 41 and I am back and feeling happy to be riding again!
    The bike gives you the feeling of freedom. I pat and thank my bike everytime it gives me a safe ride! (I grew up riding horses)

  14. February 29, 2012 20:28

    That was really cruel to post photos of warm sunny places when I”m fighting to deal with winter cycling (just my sick humour). Worn chain. Wrecked gears from salty chain wear. I want summer real bad. Thanks for reminding me I have to wait until May until I can take off my winter studded tires and put on my cruiser tires.

  15. Kassie permalink
    August 11, 2013 20:26

    Loved this post! I couldn’t have said it better.
    Nothing beats a sunday morning ride along the torrens and then home to have pancakes! :)


  1. tara: ten things i’ve learned from cycling | Mendo 2 Mile Challenge
  2. spotted: tara on ‘the urban country’ « Simply Bike

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