There is a big campaign at the moment to encourage drivers to recognize that every person on a bike is not only vulnerable but a person with a life.
We all share the road and should be courteous towards each other NO matter what form of transport we have chosen.
It got me to thinking though about cycling and what life lessons I have learnt on two wheels. When I thought long and hard about it, I realised, yes I am a road user but there is a whole lot more to me and my bike. As a club cyclist I am also a very valuable member of society, highly employable and a great addition to any household. Here's why!
Qualities that make cyclists highly employable and loveable. Life Lessons from behind my handlebars:
1. Every cyclists knows that suffering is a natural part of being alive.
We embrace struggle as an opportunity to challenge ourselves. We see it as a chance to grow and flex a little muscle. When a great big mountain appears on our horizon we are faced with two choices.
"Do or do not. There is no try." -Yoda
Of course you can turn back, take the low road or detour but where is the challenge in that? There's no kudos or bragging rights in taking the easy option. Life isn't smooth, the road will rises and fall but the view from the top of that climb is what motivates us to keep going. It may take longer than we thought to summit. There maybe an unexpected turn in the road or especially steep part but we accept that it's part of the route. We may even have to get off and push our bike the odd time but we will carry on one way or the other. Likewise, when we fall off we get back on. We know after the climb there will be rewards. An amazing view from the top and a great big descent. A welcome break, a time to enjoy the thrill of whizzing down the mountain because we earnt it. Cyclists accept highs and lows, steep and flat. They dig deep when the going gets tough and enjoy the freewheel until the next challenge appears.
C.V & Life Qualities: Hard working. Endurance. Resilient. Goal Driven. Determined. Enjoys a challenge and willingness to get out of comfort zone. Can do attitude. Not afraid to struggle or put in the extra effort required. Giving up is usually not an option.
2. Cyclists love and value teamwork.
Have you seen a group of cyclists riding two by two? (Its called a pelton.) Rather than shouting at them or seeing them as a nuisance, have a think about what they are doing. It's a team, made up of chiefs and indians. The chiefs at the front are doing all the work and pulling the group along. They are doing most of the work and building the momentum. The indians at the back are resting, rejuvenating and getting ready to take their turn at the front. The pelton rotates, the chiefs move back and the indians get promoted. Everyone takes their turn at the front, everyone is responsible for the safety and energy requirements of the group. If someone is struggling they are brought into the middle of the group and offered protection and shelter, no one is left behind.
C.V. & Life Qualities: Adaptable. Good communicators. Cares for others. Able to work in a team. Looks out for others and able to make allowances for others strengths and weaknesses. Happy to lead and to follow as required.
3. Cyclists are naturally positive, optimistic, spontaneous and adaptable.
It's lashing rain and we see a cloud that looks a little less gray! We think we might even see clear skies over there somewhere. We change the route instantly, chase the blue, decide we should stay out longer and have an extra slice of cake to celebrate. We are not attached to the route, it can be changed at a moment's notice. We are ok with adverse conditions. They can't get any worse only better, the rain has to stop eventually and the coffee shop is always open!
C.V & Life Qualities: Adaptable to changes of environment. Will find an alternative way to achieve their goal. Patience. Commitment. Get up and go. Driven.
4. We are great problem solvers with a little bit of MacGyver thrown in!
Have you ever seen a group of cyclists at the side of the road with a puncture? One or two might be physically fixing the puncture but the whole group is involved. Someone has a better pump, someone has a gas cylinder, someone has better tyre levers and someone has some lovely sweets to share with the group. It's all going on. Clothing is organised, food is consumed, everyone checks their own tyres. It's a hive of activity, it's not a waste of time but an opportunity to regroup and prepare. Even the ones who may be leaning up against the wall looking bored, they are talking about puncture repairs and sharing useful information. We are prepared for most mechanical eventualities. Tool kits at hand, all we are short of is a Saint Bernard doggy!
C.V & Life Qualities: Problem solving. Prepared for said problems. Can work in a team to solve a problem. Rise to a challenge. Cares for and will maintain equipment. Deals quickly and efficiently with problems and gets moving again asap. Helps others to fix their broken equipment.
5. They care about their health and fitness. They are sociable, accepting of others and most importantly they are looking after their mental health.
The health benefits of cycling are pretty obvious, from a happy, healthy heart to joint mobility, it's a fantastic sport. Club cycling is sociable, we chat and stop for coffee. We don't care who you are or what you do, if you own a bike you must be sound! Group cycling is basically a mobile manshed project.
Mental health benefits of cycling are underestimated in my view. I love to "burn off the crazy." If I am having a bad day I cycle it out. If I need to escape to clear my head I go for a spin. If I have a free time, I get on my bike. Getting out in the daylight, fresh air, surrounded by greenery and throw in a little climb or challenge you have it all. It really does help to bring clarity and a fresh perspective to your day. It is a lot healthier than bringing your problems home, having blood pressure issues and being wound up. You can burn off that excess energy or stress, grind it out on the gears, take no prisoners on the hills or give yourself a speed test. Feeling elated, exhausted but in a good way, makes for a better person to live and work with. We all need an outlet. Which would you rather work / live with, someone who can't channel their emotions and energy in a healthy manner or someone who owns a bike?
C.V & Life Qualities: Fit. Healthy. Open minded. Accepting of others. Able to deal with personal stress. Good energy levels. Enjoys the outdoors. Has a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety. Uses spare time in a healthy manner.
So you see, the person wearing the mad, unflattering lycra has many life skill and very admirable qualities. They are highly employable and have amazing qualities for family life. They have a passion for something healthy. Cyclists have an outlet to meet others and be free of daily stresses. Personally, I think it's especially important for men as, in general, most will bottle up their feelings. I'm not saying we have group hugs or therapy sessions over coffee. I have however heard the lads discussing daily issues that perhaps they may not feel comfortable talking about in other environments. There is a healthy mix of men and women too which I really enjoy. Cycling in groups actually brings out the best in people, I know the driver stuck behind us will disagree, but just have a think next time you meet us. We are having fun. We are enjoying our beautiful country. We are contributing to the local coffee shop and bike retail economy. Most importantly of all, we go home happy, enthusiastic for life, full of stories and excitement about our travels. We have comradeship and we have our tribe. Who doesn't want to live or work with someone like that? For those living with us, yes the bike needs a bubble bath and some attention, why not get involved and help us degrease? It's fun, I promise!
Other Blogs you may be interested in:
How to improve your cycling performance lying on the floor
Yoga for Cyclists
Beauty and the bike
What I wish someone had told me before I started cycling
Join me in Spain, March 2018 for a week of cycling and yoga in the Sierra Nevada.
We have three cycling groups each day. Advanced, Intermediate and Leisure. Yoga is suitable for all and no experience is necessary, just a willingness to try!
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor, based in South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners and golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independant, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety.
A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including La Marmotte Sportive. She is an accomplished audax-er having done numerous 200km and 300km routes. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.