7 Reasons To Take A Challenging Weekend Ride ASAP
As we move into what many experts are calling the second wave in North America, Europe and elsewhere, there is certainly reason for concern but there is also no better time to get out and enjoy a bicycle ride. Here are seven reasons why you should take a challenging weekend ride ASAP.
1 – Feel Good Naturally
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of COVID (at least for those who have not suffered directly from the virus) has been the strain on our mental health and well being. We all know that the best way to counter stress is outdoor activities. We also know that challenging physical activities – whether it is long walks, running, swimming or cycling – are not only relaxing and distracting but also produce a secret ingredient called endorphins. Endorphins are known to be responsible for producing a euphoric state. Push yourself hard enough and you will be producing endorphins galore.
2 – Spend The Whole Day Outside
All experts agree that if there is one area in which you are the least likely to catch the virus, it is in the great outdoors. Spend the whole day outside and enjoy yourself by going for a long bike ride. Take more breaks because breaks are great fun and allow you to explore the area. If you are new to cycling, an additional bonus is that you will realize how much distance you can cover, even pedalling very slowly.
3 – Overcome Your Own Perceived Limits
While on the subject of riding slowly, it always amazes me how many non-cyclists or occasional city cyclists pronounce, with the utmost confidence, that they could never ride 30, 40 or 50 kilometres in a day. At a comfortable walking pace, a healthy person can cover 5 km per hour. Multiply that by six hours of walking, with as many stops in between as you like (after all you have the whole day), and you will have almost covered 30 kms. The bicycle is much more efficient and allows you, even at a leisurely pace, to cover that distance more than three times as fast. If you take breaks for coffee and cake, lunch, sightseeing and picking berries along the way, you will still not be tired and will marvel that you have cycled 40 kms or more on your first cycling adventure. Once you realize you can do this, it’s all downhill from there.
4 – Gain A Sense Of Accomplishment
We all like to feel that we have accomplished something every day, or at least every week. However, during COVID some of us may feel that just getting through the day is an accomplishment. You should, however, give yourself a small challenge, whatever it may be, given your own sense of what you think you can do. Try cycling 40 kms if that is a distance that you have never done before. After you do that, give yourself a higher goal, particularly if you are a beginner. You will soon get better at it no matter what age you are or fitness level you are in. You will be proud of your accomplishments. That is just the way it is – we always get better at a new activity if we do it over and over again. Your muscles get familiar with what they need to do, they become more relaxed and more efficient. In no time, you will be doing a metric century – 100 kms – in a day – even if you are 70 years old. I have seen this happen many times. How is that for an accomplishment!
5 – Build Your Confidence
Accomplishments are important in our lives because they lead to a sense of confidence. Confidence is not easy to build but a person who a month or two ago said they could not cycle 30km in a day but can now do a couple of metric centuries on a weekend, will not only be in better shape, healthier and more alert, but also will have gained tremendous confidence of what they can do and who they are. That is just the start to a better life.
6 – Become Sharper And More Alert
During COVID, when our movements and abilities to go places are limited, one can easily feel that one is not alert or as focused as before. Walking, swimming, gym exercises, running are all healthy activities but cycling provides additional benefits. Cycling, by its very nature, forces one to be totally in the moment, focused and alert, as anything can happen in an instant. You could get a flat tire, have a dog chase you, encounter a reckless driver, a scary pot hole, or a tree full of glorious cherries or apples that beg to be picked. Cycling requires your mind to actually balance your body on two wheels, something that requires the brain to continuously and quickly adjust as required. Essentially, cycling, more than any other activity, keeps your brain active and healthy.
7 – Have A Lot Of Fun
One thing that has been largely missing during COVID is fun. Cycling – whether a full day, a weekend or a longer cycling holiday is stimulating, enlightening, satisfying and playful. In one word, it is fun, particularly when you add a small challenge to it. Try it. It works for me every time, especially on days when I least feel like doing it, such as in the rain, wind, heat or cold.