You may not know that America celebrates the bicycle and cycling during May. It isn’t one of those Hallmark moments celebrated with greeting cards and gifts. It is a celebration of the joy and freedom that a bicycle can bring to our lives.
I am an avid cyclist. Most cyclists celebrate this month by challenging themselves to cycle more miles and more often. To make the month more personal, I am offering up two challenges. The first is to get three non-cyclist friends on a bike and out for a ride with me during May. My second challenge for my cycling pals is to do the same with their friends, family and coworkers.
I rode my bike daily in my youth. It was my chariot to adventure with my neighborhood friends. Life moved on and my bike became less of a focal point. In my mid-30s I bought a 10-speed and decided to pedal myself to a healthier person. Alas, that idea was lost in my busy schedule. It gathered dust in my garage and was largely unused other than for a few casual rides on vacation.
In 2008 I had weight loss surgery and again pledged to change my life to be that healthier person. I knew the key to being healthier is being more active. My bike became the central focus in that transformation. I began cycling and my memories of the good times cycling returned. I started developing a personal network of fellow weight loss surgery patients who shared my love of cycling.
In the winter of 2010 my weight loss friends and I decided it was time to form a bike club. We put our thoughts onto paper. It would be a club of casual cyclists who ride for fun and friendship. Our focus would be on bringing the love of cycling to those who wanted to live a healthier life and network with people who share that love. The Spin-off Cyclists Bicycle Club was born.
Our dreams became a reality on a sunny early April Saturday morning in 2010 when twelve cyclists joined us for our first ride. The Spin-offs has enjoyed great growth over the years. We found that network of people who shared our vision. We have grown from a handful of people to a club approaching 400 members. It changed my life. I have seen the club change the lives of countless others who are rediscovering cycling after a long absence or discovering cycling for the first time.
Cycling did change my life. It is not about being able to cycle more and farther. It’s about finding a passion in my life. It’s about new friends and discovering new places. It’s about being more fit while enjoying the great outdoors. It’s about me personally impacting the lives of others. I love seeing the newbie on their first ride and their sense of accomplishment and pride as they finish that ride.
I hope that my story has given you a reason to ride a bicycle. Dust off your bike and go for a ride this week. The network of bike trails in our park systems provide a casual traffic free space to cycle. Local bicycle shops are good places to purchase or rent a bike. These bike shops can connect you with bike clubs, bike trails and cyclist friendly roads in your area.
I hope that I have motivated my local non-cyclist friends, family and coworkers to join me on a ride this month. I am on my bike 3-4 times on most weeks. I always have time for another ride. I would especially love to ride with you if you are new to cycling.
For my cyclist friends, I hope you accept my challenge to find three of your friends, family or coworkers who do not cycle and invite them out for a ride. People want to be more fit and healthier. Let them know that a bicycle is a low impact form of exercise that burns calories while having fun.
Happy National Bike Month! It’s time for you to celebrate. You don’t need to send me a greeting card or buy me a gift. The gift I have for you is my cycling challenge. It will change your life. The gift I want from you is hearing about your ride and how you are sharing cycling with three of your friends. Let’s pay it forward and spread the love of cycling.