Recently at a friend’s party I was introduced to an emerging artist as that mad cyclist. “You can’t trust cyclists, they’re always running away from something; besides it’s too risky” said Mr Emerging.
For many years I worked in the finance sector, so when called upon to defend cycling I’ve developed a few simple risk and return arguments to educate the cycling challenged.
The risk of being killed or seriously injured whilst riding is minimal. In fact, regular cyclists tend to live longer than their sedentary contemporaries. On balance you’re better off cycling than not.
Regrettably cycling deaths in Australia are increasing. Evidently in 80% of cases, it’s been shown that the cyclist wasn’t at fault. This is cold comfort indeed, to be dead right.
The recent high profile deaths of four cycle tourists in Tajikistan deliberately run down by ISIS affiliates and another two riders murdered by bandits in Mexico has served to harden some people’s views regarding the dangers of cycle touring. Social media tribute pages honouring the riders courage, along with their quest to embrace an authentic adventurous life, have been hijacked by victim blaming trolls, thoughtlessly citing social Darwinism as somehow being in play. “It’s crazy to risk your life traveling in lawless countries.“
As an experienced touring cyclist, I make a concerted effort to plan my routes to mitigate risks, while surrendering to the mystery of the open road. Mostly self sustaining I rely on no one, however, I do welcome the company of strangers. I cherish those unexpected encounters with wildlife rolling along through spectacular country not knowing or caring where you might sleep that night .
Rather than running away from life, cyclists ride to greet life. Meeting unforeseen opportunities, overcoming adversity with a shrug and a grin , confronting doubts and uncertainty by taking action. Living each day to the full.
It’s different out there on your bicycle, you learn things, stuff they can’t teach you at business school or in the corporate world. Many of the jobs we do are undertaken reluctantly without passion or commitment.
You will only ever reap real rewards with genuine effort, besides it’s not a real adventure until things go wrong and they do. That’s when you are called upon to find resilience.
I have a friend who is at present cycling the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. He is an experienced expedition touring cyclist, aware of the risks and knows the rewards.
I’m going to keep cycling: Fear has never stopped anyone dying but it stops too many people living.
Calculated risk is the key to a rewarding life.