tara: ten things i’ve learned from cycling
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…
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’!
Thanks so much for the guest post, Tara! Happy riding to you and Blue Betty!