I started cycling about a year and a half ago. Mostly as a means of getting about. I was beginning to feel like I was being held hostage by bus and train companies whose services are sometimes late, or, which has happened, don’t arrive at all.
Then, once I’d started cycling, I realised how much I was enjoying it. And I found myself pedalling along with a new sense of freedom and accomplishment, and a massive grin on my face. Because cycling did something, quite unexpected, to my moods.
I began arriving at work, red-faced and sweaty, yes (what do you expect after an hour’s ride?) but feeling… really good. Buzzing. That expression ‘water off a duck’s back’ suddenly made sense. Because that’s how I felt. As if there was nothing worthwhile to get uptight about.
I felt like I could — and would — take on whatever the day had to offer. No questions. No complaints. Just a Zen-like expression of contentment on my face. Or so I like to imagine.
In reality, looking serene with a facial colour of beetroot (oh, and don’t forget ‘helmet head’) is highly unlikely; but hey, it’s a small price to pay considering the benefits. And my face does return to its normal colour, eventually.
And no, I don’t walk around my work place smelling like an old gym sock. I keep deodorant and a packet of baby wipes (who knew they were so good at getting rid of sweat odour?) in my locker, and I have a change of clean clothes in my rucksack.
Once I’ve ‘wiped’ myself down and changed clothes, I’m as good as new and ready for whatever the day has to offer. And I’m still buzzing. Which makes sense because exercise makes your body release endorphins, so called feel-good hormones, plus levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are reduced.
Pre-bike days, I don’t ever recall arriving at work feeling that good. On the contrary, I’d often arrive feeling bad-tempered about something or the other. Looking back, I was walking around in a semi-permanent state of annoyance. The weather (this is the UK, after all), late buses/trains, annoying partner, annoying people, etc.
Now, a year and a half later, although I’m in no way immune to being annoyed on occasion, I somehow feel more… balanced. More positive. Mentally stronger. And physically, I feel fitter than I ever did in my 20s or 30s.
And long may it continue. Here’s to cycling.
Until next time,