Being off the bike for one reason or another has made me think a lot about the aspects of riding bikes that aren't immediately within focus day to day. When I became much more involved in cycling some years ago, a lot of things changed straight up. My diet was different, my sleep was different, the bikes I rode were better, I got better and, most importantly, the people I hung out with the most changed.
We all have different friends from different walks of life, and I'm one of those people who tends to preface them with a more detailed description. I have school friends, uni friends, music friends, and bike friends. I have metal acquaintances because, you know, that's a scene I mainly frequent for the music, rather than the company.
Cycling is so often spoken about in terms of things gained, whether it be fitness, gear, race experience, scars, stories, but so rarely do we actually sit back and think about how many people we have met, purely though this two wheeled machine. It's taken me time off the bike, to look around and realise that, in what has been a fairly unpleasant time for me personally, that these people are everywhere, and they mean a lot to me.
Cycling, as Brendan has written about in the past, places you into a community. This might be a racing club, or group ride organised by a bunch of mates on a given morning. Hell, it might even be a bunch of drinking buddies, the bike mattering only insofar as it gets you to the pub. These groups spring up so naturally, and often so fast, that we can forget how quickly bonds are being forged. And, true to form, I've only noticed the bonds once I've needed them.
I'm thankful for cycling for a lot of things. I have good legs, hilarious tan lines, and a few good stories. But mainly I'm thankful for all my friends I've met through the machine, that have influenced and assisted me. There are a lot of you, so I can't really make a list. But, as the old adage goes, you know who you are.
Maybe we should think about this stuff more often. We spend so much time fussing over the more obvious facets of cycling, we can lose sight of the larger, arguably more important picture. Maybe we should place less emphasis on watts per kilo, kilometres weekly, strava segments, or even Saturday's race. I'm not saying these are bad things (except for maybe strava) but it sure as hell isn't as good as hanging out on a bike with a bunch of mates.
The really precious moment is the realisation that the bikes are totally superfluous.