Piece for 'Ape to Gentleman' website...
“Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling.” - Jean de Gribaldy, Professional cyclist and 'Directeur Sportif'
If you loiter in the certain circles you may have heard 'Cycling is the new Golf' used at some point in the last years. So since, according to one of the most successful Directeur Sportif's (French for sporting director) of the 1970's and 80's Jean de Gribaldy, you cannot 'play' at Cycling - how indeed should you progress if you wish to take up this mystical art?
That is where I come in. A cyclist for arguably the top Development team in the World, Axeon, I will cater for your every 'pro cyclist imitation' need in the following points, to give ease to this supposed tough and unpitying endeavour.
Cyclist can be a notoriously tight nit bunch, complete with endless signals, etiquette and unwritten rules both on and off their machines. However I am of a different belief. I believe that other than staying safe and enjoying yourself, the beauty of Cycling is that it is there for all to adopt and enjoy.
Ultimately, on a bike you you can travel more quickly in cities, you can have a clear environmental conscience and you can become fitter whilst at its! Take that Golf...
Look after your equipment
So you have read this far, maybe you do want to be a cyclist? Well you will need a bike! And once you have bought, begged or borrowed it, you need to keep it clean. This really isn't rocket science and certainly wont take hours from your day. Your main port of call is to give your machine some soapy care and lubrication. Checking your tyres are in good condition should also help to keep you puncture free. The motto here is: look after your equipment and it will look after you!
Riding the road
Cycling can take you limitless places. However it is imperative to remember that the majority of this riding will take place on public highways. In that vein this is possibly the most important point of all - look after yourself! Self and spacial awareness are key. Developing an understanding of not only how you should use the roads, but also how other road users will approach you on a bike is also important. Group riding, something I will touch on later, is also great fun, but can take up more space - so be wary!
The roads have been conquered and your bike is ready - now is time to have some fun. Get out there and explore. It is amazing the enjoyment that can be derived from finding new places and routes, so see where your bike can take you. Don't be afraid to get a little lost or take a new turn. Find that long lost kid inside yourself and venture in to the unknown. Pushing the boundaries is a lesson we can all take from Sport and apply to any walk of life. So visit those limits both physically and in your knowledge of your local geography - you might find something you like...
Cycling is a strange sport to watch, but from both the comfort of the sofa or the enthralment of the roadside, it can provide a breathtaking spectacle. Get online and find out about your local races, especially the bigger Professional ones on the calendar. Each race occurs once a year, so it may be a little wait, but you will be sure to find something for some extra pedal based inspiration. And don't be limited by road cycling, have online at Mountain Biking, Cyclo cross, Track racing, BMX racing, Downhill racing and even Cycle Speedway. There is certainly something out there to tickle anyone's two wheeled fancy!
Cycling is special, yes a bike may have some unappealing upfront costs, but once you are out there it is gloriously free! So explore those lanes and then share them. Join a local Cycling club once you feel confident out on the roads, or even in order to do so with the safety of others. Whether it is to feed your competitive nature or simply to find others to enjoy the roads with, Club's are a great way to learn about the sport and meet other people through it. I have met some of my nearest and dearest friends through cycling, both via races and simply from riding my bike - so once again, see where it takes you!