Written by Andrew Nowlan at the DailyPeloton.com
There is a multitude of reasons that attract us to the bicycle and these are as varied as we, the riders are. Perhaps two of the most common reasons are the freedom our bicycle grants us to roam the countryside and the camraderie of our fellow cyclists.
I’ve always enjoyed riding my bike, but it is only in the last few years that my addiction to riding my bike has developed. When I made a concerted effort to get back on my bike, it was to get back into shape. My primary motivation was to shed a few pounds that seemed to be accumulating around my mid-section. But as I spent more time on the bike, something changed: my desire to spend even more time on the bike!
This year, I spent on average, 11-12 hours a week on my bike. Typically, at least a third of this time was spent on just one weekend ride, spinning my way across the beautiful rolling countryside of Southwest Wisconsin. Long rides, I have found, are great for both my body and mind. Of course long rides provide tremendous benefit physically as you transform your body into an endurance machine, but also provide a wonderful mental stimulant as well. A four or five hour ride IS a great achievement. The boost to your self-confidence as a result of your achievement is as positive as the physical benefits to your body.
As the summer wore on, my long weekend ride was getting longer and longer- 60 miles, 70 miles, 80… As the distance increased, so did my enjoyment. Just two years ago, the thought of me doing an 80-mile ride was, well, unthinkable! But I was learning that I really enjoyed these long rides. Early this summer, I decided that I should ride a “century,” what cyclists call a ride of at least 100 miles. Many bicycling clubs will host an “organized century” where for a fee of 25 to 50 dollars, the ride will be “supported.” Support on an organized century includes vehicles providing mechanical or other assistance and rest stops placed regularly along the route with food, drink, toilet facilities and basic first aid supplies. Often, for participating there is a t-shirt or some other memento and perhaps a potluck or other gathering for the riders. Organized centuries are great fun to participate in. Lots of people from all walks of life out on the road, riding together, talking and sharing the day make for a very enjoyable ride.