Why Ride?

On the rest day I thought I’d step away from the Tour de France for a moment. One of the things that fascinates me most about cycling is why we ride.

After all for most in the world cycling means transport, not sport. But a few race. At first glance it is a very hard sport with meagre odds of success. Only one rider can win a race yet that won’t stop 50-150 riders lining up, and that’s after months of training, with some crashes, frostbite, sunburn and plenty of other hardships along the way. Wouldn’t it just be easier to sit in an armchair all day?

For me the training and planning are all part of the fun. It just wouldn’t be worth doing if it was easy. I came across a quote from nineteenth century French writer George Sand, aka Amantine Dupin.

Laissez-moi fuir la menteuse et criminelle illusion du bonheur ! Donnez-moi du travail, de la fatigue, de la douleur et de l’enthousiasme.

It reads: “Let me escape the deceitful and criminal illusion of happiness! Give me some work, some tiredness, some pain and some enthusiasm.

I’ve sometimes found winning a race can be an anti-climax and that the greatest enjoyment is not found crossing the finish line, it is the weeks, months and even years spent in anticipation of that moment.

Like George Sand, the happiness we chase can be illusory, rather than the promise of a victory line celebration, I love the certainty of aching legs, the capacity to eat for two and being able to count on good team mates.

  • Sand was a peculiar character, perhaps the first woman in France to gain a literary reputation… but only after adopting a male pseudonym and even dressing in men’s clothes.

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