By Jeffrey Stern
We all know them, those friends that appreciate the convenience and simplicity of integrating more bike riding into their daily lives, but rarely do it.
It’s hard to put a finger on one reason why and pin it down as the end all, be all for all of our once in-shape adventure buddies turned lazy, drive everywhere around town people. Bikes are not just for kids and we all know that. The holistic health benefits from the cardiovascular system to the release of the well known happiness chemical dopamine, make it clear: cycling and exercise in general can be addicting.
C’mon, who doesn’t want to feel happy?
I can point to many rides throughout my life that perhaps started a bit melancholy. Maybe it was a fight with a friend, a disappointment at work or just general stress from life. Getting out the door and on my bike was the last thing I felt like doing, but was the absolutely necessary thing I needed to be doing. Not only for my heart and my head, but for my general pleasantness around other people. Moods can be contagious after all.
Too often these days, our technology driven society finds solace in a screen – from large TVs, to computers, tablets and phones (the latter getting bigger every year). We’re addicted to hits of dopamine from love through a screen – likes, comments, any type of virtual high-five you can imagine. This hooks us more than how we’re spending the time engaging with the world around us and people in our lives.
I recently read a great story about mountain biking legend Mark Weir in Adventure Sports Journal where he said empathically, “I’ll be out on a good rip with some younger guys and every time we stop for a break, they’re pulling out their phones. It makes me want to pull out my phone, but I don’t want to pull out my phone. I hate my phone. It drives me crazy. I yell at them to put their damn phones away and look at each other. Talk to each other. Communicate with each other. We can’t lose this most elemental form of being a human.”
It’s amazing to see how quickly generations can change, molded by advances in technology, in some ways for the better, but in others not so good.
The young adults of society want to wander, not beholden to a normal job or one mountain town, but the freedom to point a compass in the direction of something beautiful and just go.
For many of us, the moments in life when we feel most fulfilled are those which find us moving towards something new; albeit a challenge, location or the unknown. Right now, the unknown is the health of the bike industry.
With more and more generations turning away from bikes to their phones and other technologies that absorb our time, where will we be ten years from now?
Stagnation amongst the users with dusty (not from the trails) tires waiting to be ridden needs to be stifled in order to help change the winds. Sometimes the best way to connect with a lost passion is to disconnect with whatever may be currently consuming us. It’s that first step that can be the hardest, but nothing beats the wind in your face heart pumping joy of a spin around town. Except maybe bringing a friend along with to enjoy the ride. Screen time can wait, just get out and ride. Even if it’s just to the grocery store, on the cruiser bike, I guarantee you won’t regret it.