I am a cyclist—I love riding my bicycle. Last year I rode 3,000 miles and I’ve ridden
over 10,000 since I started riding in 2005. I began after I had ACL surgery on my knee.
I knew that my days of playing basketball were over and I needed to find
some way of getting exercise with bad knees.
Some good friends of mine were into cycling, so I thought I would give
it a try. It did not take long before I
was hooked. In many ways, cycling is the
perfect sport for me—it provides great exercise, requires expensive gear, and encourages
As a result of cycling, I am probably in the best
cardiovascular shape of my life. Cycling
burns calories at a good rate and it is possible to do so for hours. Further, I am fairly weak in my upper body,
but my legs have always been strong. That
may be because of rowing crew for a year in college, but I don’t really know. On a bike, arm muscles are just extra weight
to drag around. Legs are what
matter. There is nothing quite like the
feeling of my legs relentlessly powering me up a hill.
A couple years ago I bought a used carbon-fiber bike to
replace the relatively inexpensive bike I bought when I started riding. After a wreck last fall that cracked the
frame (and separated my shoulder), I had to replace it with a newer model. It rides wonderfully and is very light. (Admittedly, it would be a lot cheaper and a
better idea to lose ten pounds that to spend so much on a carbon-fiber frame!)
Even better than just a high-tech bicycle, cycling gives me an
amazing amount of data about my rides. I
have a spreadsheet with at least some summary data about every ride I’ve taken. I currently use a Garmin Edge 500
computer to help gather data. The Edge
500 includes a GPS that keeps track of where I’ve been. It also communicates with other devices such
as a heart rate monitor.
The data from a single ride is amazing. On Saturday, I rode 50 miles in the Trek St.
Patty’s Day ride and gathered this data
. Check it out at least briefly to see all the
data. It includes the route, elevation,
heart rate, cadence (how fast I’m pedaling), temperature, and speed. I can look at the ride and see that while my average
speed was decent (18.6 mph) given the amount of hills (climbing), my average
heart rate and cadence were a bit low (131 bpm and 76 rpm). That was probably because I was drafting
behind other riders a decent bit. I
really need to be closer to 140 bpm and over 80 rpm. Guess I need to push harder!
The exercise, gear, and gadgets, however, aren’t enough to
explain why I love cycling so much. In
truth, on longer rides I can’t wait to get off the bike. Especially after riding 60 or 100 miles, much
of my body is sore and I am just plain exhausted. Being outdoors is nice, but I’m not really
and outdoor person. (I have trouble
picturing surviving in an era without air conditioning.)
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the solitude that
draws me to cycling. When I’m riding it
is just me with the wind in my face, watching the miles go by. Those miles can be through the serenity of trees
and farms near where I live or the long vistas of the coast or the beauty of
the mountains. I prefer riding with
others in a group, but there is not really much conversation. It the best of both worlds, like being alone with friends (or at least with others
who share my love of cycling). In many
respects, cycling is when I feel closest to God—looking at the glory of His
creation. Alone with friends. Alone with God. Amen.
Oh yeah, I also enjoy being able to ride faster than many
people and aspire to go even faster. So
much for being a deeply spiritual person!