What is it about cycling that is helping us heal? I now can’t get enough of it, has this hobby become an addiction? …. if so, it’s a good one!!
Mim and I have been cycling together consistently for the last 5 years, neither of us were particular cycling enthusiasts before this, we owned no Lycra items. I had commuted to Uni on a single speed (I’m not a hipster), built a few bikes and had an old 26in hardtail mountain bike, but cycling was more of a use than a passion. After many years hiatus of mountain biking, I started again and Mim started as a beginner. We started mountain biking more seriously after a scary trip to Sun peaks in Canada (if you know mountain biking you will realise this is a gnarly bike park for a beginner, especially one who was using a wheelchair only a matter of months before- sorry Mim). Mim got a new job in town and we bought her a commuting road bike, ‘the stealth’ which she fell in love with and calls the clicky freehub ‘the sound of joy’. From then on our love of cycling has grown as much as our love for each other. It’s hard to imagine a life without bikes…. I’m going to explain!
Just after Lenny died during the hard winter months, I was on Youtube watching random stuff just trying to get though the day, early on it was mainly objects getting crushed in a hydraulic press, watching these was oddly satisfying and provided a necessary means to rest my grieving mind. We were just trying to survive, so thankyou hydraulic press channel. The phone bots then recommended me to watch, ‘Two wheel healing’ video with one of my favourite cyclists Josh Bryceland. Just the phrase ‘two wheel healing’ stuck in my head and I knew that we could certainly do some healing on the bikes.
There are loads of films and videos about why cycling is great but, to be honest, if you cycle, you’ve heard it before! ….The main reason is that riding a bike makes me feel like a kid again! The hours riding around with my mates doing big skids and pedalling over hills of Matlock are memories of pure bliss (apart from riding/pushing up Riber hill after Dr Lingard) . It is also the simplicity of human powered travel that is liberating, a reliance on your own body to get you from one place to another gives such a sense of freedom, especially when cycle touring (Watch out for a specific blog post on this). I love the methodical nature of pedalling, pushing through and seeing progress. This is where cycling has helped me the most when grieving, I felt I needed to see progress, rather than living in a groundhog day. For many of the early months after Lenny died our lives had stopped yet the world had carried on, our friends and family returned to work and seemed to be having fun, yet we had become stagnant and alone. We were completely lost…. how can we move though this without the most important thing in our lives, Lenny!
Getting on the bikes provided an outlet for grief, I would think about Lenny, smile and cry, release endorphins and grind through pain all on one ride, while making both mental and physical progress, which is exactly what I needed. Cycling also gave us opportunity for a safe space with some degree of unpredictability. Uncertainty is something that we have really struggled with since Lenny’s death, we needed certainty and reliability, the world had become a very scary space completely out of our control, being on a bike has meant we can venture into the scariness and start to face fear.
Cycling has been a lifesaver! We all need some two wheel healing at times, give it a try!