5 minutes or 5 days, time on the bike is time on the bike. It doesn’t matter how far you go, how much climbing you do, whether it’s close to home or the other side of the world, the benefits of heading out on the bike will always be the same. It will bring you the same smile, peace and time to destress, it’ll stretch your legs and kick your brain into another gear.
I recently fell into a poor mindset when it came to getting out on the bike. I had a big adventure planned: riding from Bangor to South Wales whilst also summiting and riding the 3 peaks; Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan. However, as the time got close to head off on this adventure the weather took a bad turn and before I knew it the UK was plummeted back into the midst of winter, with snow at the doorsteps. I postponed my big adventure and planned to head up the following week in the van and just do the Snowdonia segment. But once again, the weather gods weren’t on my side, with the summits in Snowdonia being coated in snow and ice; it wasn’t something I felt wholly confident on approaching on my own.
These failed attempts at the big adventure I had planned got me into a bad headspace. If I wasn’t going to do a big, multi-day challenge, then why head out to my local for a few runs? I had forgotten the reason behind that made me want to go out on a big adventure on the bike in the first place; my love for any time on two wheels.
A day became a week, and a week soon became a month. I kept putting off going out for a ride as if I was “saving myself” for something bigger. Soon work, deadlines, planning, and my bank account began stressing me out far more than usual, but I had no idea why. And the last thing I wanted to do was head out for a ride to remind myself of the big adventure that I had missed out on.
Adding to my stress was trying to figure out when I’d manage to actually complete the big ride I had planned. For a freelancer, where every email, message and phone call counts, where a quick response could mean the difference between you or someone else getting the work, trying to get 5 days completely free feels impossible.
So this is an ode to just saying “fuck it” when there’s too much weight on your shoulders and heading off to play in the woods for a bit. Life will still go on after you get back, and the load will almost definitely feel a little lighter. And there will always be another chance for an adventure.
What I find with these times when I have to remind myself to just make time and get out, is that I always seem to have to let the stress and guilt from not riding rise to such a point that I’m boiling over, I can’t focus, I can’t handle everyday stress, and then I go out on the bike out of frustration and am reminded that all I needed all along, was to just get outside. When will I learn? Every time without fail, it puts me in a better mood.
I don’t want this to come across as preachy, I’m in no position to be telling people to “make time” - I know how difficult it is. If anything, this piece is a preach to my future self, to remember to stop stressing – and to just ride my bike.
Words and photos by Samantha Saskia Dugon.