How Bikes Have Increased My Self-Confidence
I learned to ride a bicycle when I was a child, but it was not until my junior year of college that I began to develop a passion for the bike. It was then that I became interested in incorporating the bicycle into my daily routine. I began to appreciate the way bikes were made, the way they functioned, and the way they propelled me from place to place. The bicycle was a beautiful mixture of simplicity and complexity.
I may seem to be some bicycle creeper that spoons wheels in my free time, but take some time to hear me out.
The one thing that I really enjoyed about the bicycle was the co-dependency it has with the rider. One does not work without the other. You can certainly makes this argument with other objects, but unlike most, the bike relies completely on human power. The bicycle allows me to travel significant distances over reasonable periods of time. This creates a unique experience in which I can enjoy the convenience of travel, but also feel the burn of a work out. There is something extremely gratifying about arriving at a particular destination and knowing that it was all fueled by me. I don’t mean a destination right next door, but one that is a few miles away. This type of travel doubles as an achievement. I quickly learned that with each place I was able to travel my sense of self began to grow. Each new destination became a new challenge.
Additionally, riding a bicycle allowed me to feel a sense of control in an often chaotic environment. As I have continued on from undergraduate education, through graduate school, and into the “real world”, I have learned that stress doesn’t ever stop. In fact, it only increases. With more independence came more responsibility, both at work and at home. There have been countless times when stress has seemingly defeated me. Essentially, this is when I lose a feeling of control over my life. I have tried many tactics to overcome stress and cycling has been the most consistent at grounding me. Incorporating the bike into my daily routine has been essential. The bike has helped me to regain a sense of control. I am controlling everything about the bicycle from the direction to the speed of travel. This “re-grounding”, if you will, then trickles into other areas of my life. The bicycle is a major contributor to my general sense of well-being.
Furthermore, bicycling has increased my sense of community. I didn’t join a crazy hipster fixie cult, or become an obsessed racer. In fact, cycling has strengthened the bond between my formerly established friends. All of my friends are different in many aspects, but the bike has been a universal interest. We didn’t force each other into the hobby. Rather, everyone slowly picked it up on their own accord. Now that we are all in different parts of the country it is hard to get together. The bike is almost always involved when we do. Having a solid group of friends with a common interest has been amazing and certainly has contributed to a strong sense of self.
Finally, bicycling has become a passion. Dictionary.com defines this as “strong amorous feeling or desire”. A passion is something that creates motivation. When you have a passion for something you want to be fully engaged in it. You want to get better at it and you want to share it with those around you. That’s exactly how I feel about cycling. I especially want to share riding with the people around me. That is why I started Bike and Brain. I wanted to share my passion with other people. I wanted to start breaking barriers to cycling in NYC. This has been a passion that has filled me with joy and has kept me encouraged. These are two of the main ingredients to a positive self-esteem.
I am not in the business of forcing passions on to others, but you should give cycling a try. What is the worst that happens? Hey, you may even find that you love it.
Matt for Bike and Brain