I was disappointed to see that Dave Moulton has decided to retire his blog because he has some excellent articles on cycling. He admits the reason for retiring the blog was that he found himself increasingly drawn into ‘political aspects’ of cycling; a world that is invariably negative. I sympathise with a desire to keep cycling free of politics, but, even more so to avoid the negativity that can easily become an aspect of cycling.
Cycling is one of my favourite hobbies; whether I am commuting into town, training in the Chilterns or racing a 10 mile time trial – I want to enjoy it. This is by far the most important thing involved in cycling.
How To Enjoy Cycling
Be Detached from Bad Driving.
Detachment does not mean we excuse bad driving or pretend it doesn’t exist. It means we don’t permanently carry around bad incidents in our mind. Motorists will drive dangerously / badly; but, we can’t allow this to upset our ride. I don’t expect much and try to let go of negative thoughts about other motorists. If we can’t do this; we can spend a 3 hour ride holding indignant thoughts about the motorist who cut a corner. Indignation doesn’t make the problem go away, but, it can spoil our ride.
One of the most irritating aspects of cycling is being labelled with the so called ‘cyclists’ who ride dangerously. We don’t label all motorists with drunk drivers who kill. But, people will try to label all cyclists together. However, if you ride responsibly; use lights at night, stop at red, don’t cycle on the pavement (sidewalk for our US friends), you feel alot better about cycling. It means you can ignore any criticism of cyclists bad behaviour because you know it doesn’t apply to you.
When I first started cycling 10 years ago, I didn’t always stop at red; I didn’t always use lights; it meant I cycled with a subtle inner tension. It was only when I changed my approach to cycling that I realised I enjoyed it a lot more. Basically, I was cycling with peace of mind.
The Power of Silence
Sometimes motorists or pedestrians shout abuse. The temptation is to respond in kind. But, this is just what they enjoy seeing. They want to see cyclists rise to the bait; this only encourages them to do more of it. If you completely ignore them you give the incident no energy.
People have different ways of dealing with unpleasant situations. My approach is to let it go. I know arguing with a driver is not going to make the roads safer. I just try to enjoy the ride; if I have to deal with bad motorists, that is just something to live with. But, I try very hard to ignore the problems.
Cycling and Politics
Some people try to politicise cycling. I don’t mind if they do; but, it’s not something that interests me so I tend to ignore this aspect of cycling. I am a member of a local cycling group cyclox. But, their attitude is primarily pragmatic and realistic; it is pressure group that doesn’t have a political line.
Basically, cycling is one of those activities that is naturally enjoyable. Just the motions and mechanics of cycling gives me joy. The only problem is that the enjoyment of cycling can be spoilt by others whom we share the road. However, ultimately, it is our attitude that determines whether we enjoy cycling or not.
City Cycling by Richard Ballantine at Amazon.co.uk