Why I Ride

Friday, August 31, 2018

Earlier this week, I finished #HarnesstheSummer, the summer challenge set by my cycling studio, & I can't remember a time in recent memory when I felt more proud of myself. Why? Well, for starters, you may recall that I cried at my introductory class in April - yet I somehow felt compelled to return, maybe precisely because I cried that first time. Four months later, I still prefer to ride on bike 37, the one wayyyy back in the corner of the room, but now that preference comes from a place of comfort, not fear.

I've finished 42 classes, & my new goal is to hit 100. So what is it about riding? Why do I ride?

I'll tell you.

I ride because at the end of a difficult day, I can zone out to 45 minutes of blank space, of nothing but music & beats & words of motivation. I ride because at the end of a good day, I can celebrate with 45 minutes of music & beats & words of motivation.

I ride to feel strong, to feel like my body can do hard things despite its size. I ride because I have never had a particularly positive or loving relationship with this body, but when I ride, I feel like maybe, eventually, I could change that about myself, even if my body itself never does change.

I ride because, yes, I want to lose weight, even though I haven't dropped a single pound since starting & have maybe even gained a few. I ride to feel more toned, at least, though I'm not sure that's happening, either, even though I don't know how that could be possible after all this damn riding.

I ride because more than I love riding, I love to eat, & I can eat a donut or half a loaf of asiago bread with sightly less guilt if I also spend three nights a week riding for 45 minutes. I ride because of guilt, sure, but also because I used to eat those things & not ride, so this has to be a step up, right?

I ride to get out all the stress of being overwhelmed & feeling like I can never get my to-do list in order, personally or professionally. I ride because I was recently diagnosed with two separate sleep disorders that have me feeling like I am damaged or lazy or weak, & riding reminds me that I am not.

I ride because I live with chronic pain & have tried everything under the sun to alleviate it, including medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, & various weird apparatuses purchased on Amazon. I ride because consistent movement is the only thing that has ever made me feel as good as I feel right now.

I ride because even though I mostly love my job, work is still work, & work days are still stressful. I ride to cancel out bad days & to rid myself of feelings of inadequacy - to forget about tasks left unfinished, to block out harsh critiques, & to take a break before I go back to even more work.

I ride because I have grown enamored of the community that riding fosters, of the people who are maybe nothing like me but with whom I still have this one thing in common. I ride because each one of us matters, in that room, when it comes to riding as a pack. I ride to be a part of something.

I ride because politics are stressful & our president is a freaking monster & my heart hurts for every minority who lives in or wishes to come to this country. I ride because sometimes fear & pain need a physical escape from the body, & for me, it's either riding or crying.

I ride because the room is dark & no one can see me (especially on my trust back-corner bike), which means I can do my best or my worst or somewhere in between, & no one will know it but me. I ride to the beat, to take in the tunes, & to really just feel the music - & allll my feelings along with it.

I ride because I want to be like my mother, who discovered her love of exercise at age 56 & who has inspired me in ways neither of us ever imagined possible. I ride because I don't want to end up waiting until I am 56 years old to follow in her footsteps, at least on this front.

I ride to feel proud of myself, not just for the riding but for all the things I do now that I once thought I couldn't. I ride because I have overcome death & surgery & heartbreak & mental illness & because I am not & have never been the terrible person I once insisted I was - & I'm damn proud of that.

I ride because I've never worked out consistently in my entire life, even thought, at 34 years old, that's totally unacceptable. I ride because I was always too cynical to believe people who said, "Once you find a workout you love, you'll want to do it," & now I have to repay the universe for my skepticism.

I ride because I want to.

I ride because I have to. 

And now? Well, now I ride because I love to. 

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