What's the draw?


New Member
Dec 9, 2003
Bicycles are a strange beast. Almost every kid learns to ride and has a bike. Why? What's the draw? Is it our first taste of freedom? Being able to move faster than our legs can take us?

I never outgrew that first exhilarated moment when I learned what it felt like to hold that bike upright and mastered the beast.

I've trained hard. I know the pain and love it. However, there's just something about that lone day out all by yourself just riding. Riding however you feel like riding with no structure and enjoying the day.

I knew a guy once that said when he was to old to race he wouldn't ride anymore!!! I was astounded! Not ride? He only loved the race, and that's fine. For me, it's more the whole experience. The fitness, racing, etc, etc is all just a product of my love of the bike.

Why do I ride? I love it. It's simple.
Why do you ride? What do you feel is the draw?

It's not good, but maybe it's an expression..

I rode a bike today.
A prayer to God, warm gentle breezes.
Smooth spinning, amazing power.
A sparkling sky, a strong beating.
Here's a challenge, a summit!
Rushing breath, pounding heart, tightness, and happy for it.
Wonderful view, struggles unheeded.
A glance back, swelling pride.
Rushing pavement, exhilaration!
Many miles, body weary.
Learn to walk.
Love to ride.

Nice expression Christopher.

Why do I ride? Hmmm...let count the ways.

I love the feel of the road, the trail, the sound or lack thereof as the wind sweeps by, the trees, the rocks, the roots, dodging potholes, the bugs in my teeth, the sting in the muscles and lungs on a long climb.

I love being able to go, not dependant on anyone but me.

Nowadays, besides the pure pleasure of riding, with all it's trials and tribulations, it's the getting out of the house for some solitude from an otherwise enjoyable but madcap household.

So...let's get out and ride!

Well, when I was a kid riding a banana-seat, coaster-brake Schwinn, it was all about the speed, the daring of a scrap plywood / cinder block street ramp, and 30-foot skid marks. :D

That transitioned into BMX, when it then was all about the speed, the cornering banks, high jumps, table-tops, and whoopdidoos. (I never raced BMX, but my cousin's dad created a private BMX track for him on his farm. It included a 50-foot, 45 degree downhill, with a table-top ramp at the end. It looked very similar to an Olympic ski-jump, and could easily help a 15 year old launch into low Earth orbit).

I just started riding again last year, after having not ridden since high school. Now it's the challenge/adventure. Can I actually push my body to go that new distance/climb that blasted hill/go that distance in a certain amount of time? What little nuances can I discover about my route that I'd never notice at 70mph in a car?

Each time I ride now I find that every ride challanges me in a new excercise of concentration, determination, environmental, physical, mental, and spiritual awareness in a way that I think no other single hobby or activity can provide. Plus, without cycling I'd go insane trying to match in a gym the excercise I get from cycling.

Short version: I'm literally addicted to cycling.

That said, last time I rode was this past weekend. I need a hit!
I love the smoothness of the wheels on the road, zipping by without making a sound, except the clicliclic of freewheeling... knowing I could have taken the car, but didn't... and I'm not stuck at a bus stop or in the crowded metro... and I'm not polluting, and I'm doing myself a lot of good and not adding any more trash to this otherwise polluted space we share... and legs! I got 'em now, and I'm awfully proud, of that, and of all the above... and sticking to those lofty ideals I had when younger about doing what is right and good instead of taking the easy way out... And the wind in my face and having cold, red cheeks... and did I mention the legs?... And on and on...

I just got back from errands on my bike; it's a gorgeous, if cold, day here and it was great to get out. I stopped at the fuits and veggie store, and when I came out there was this really old bike locked up nose to nose with mine.

The frame was old, worn, white, spartan. Must have had 3 speeds, max, and a pair of old hardened leather sadllebags.

The maker's name was almost unreadabe but I could make out "St Etienne" (name of a town in France) in great old black and gold letters on the frame..

But the seat was the most amazing! An old stretched leather job worn down to the bone! This thing was so thin, I could hardly imagine how it could hold someone up, but obviously it was still doing a fine job.

Anyway, just made me think of the beauty of an old bike like that one, one that has covered so many kilomoters and is still going. Somebody still counting on it, using it, maintaining it. I mean, think of all those poor bikes that end up as stripped frames in someone's garage, never to be used again.

I waited around a few minutes for the person to come out, then went on my way. What would I have said to him, anway? "Beautiful bike?" he might have thought I was being facetious. Or maybe he knows...

So bikes are also beautiful objects, and it's easy to become attached. I hope my bike (and myself) will grow old as gracefully as the old bike I saw today.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favourite songs, and they do a pretty good job of summing it up for me.

Going Downhill Fast by The Divine Comedy

One butterfly
A glint in his eye.
The birds sing as he cycles by.
Oh, why should he feel sad?
This world ain't so bad
And besides
Woe betide he who would frown
When natural beauty abounds.
And now, with wheels spinning free
He's picking up speed.

Two butterflies
Knots in his stomach.
They love it when he goes too fast.
The wind whistles past
Oceans of air
That will mess up his hair
Though he no longer cares
Over-indulgence in vanity's
Vacuous vice,
Just once or twice,
Four times in five
We forget we're alive
And neglect to remind

Wait, wait for me,
Oh great Mercury!
As late as you may be,
Will you wait for me?

Three butterflies
When it's time to depart,
They have tickled his ribs,
They have fluttered his heart;
But the starting is easy
Compared to the stop
And the bottom is hard
When compared to the top.

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