The little things I love about cycling

Cycling's little joys
Life is all about the little things. A cold beer on a hot summer day. Sleeping late. The smile of a stranger. Theme tunes from 1980s TV shows.

The little things make life what it is, they have to, for the big things are few and far between. Which is just as well because our tiny human minds would explode if life was a series of never-ending drama à la British TV soaps.

Cycling too lends itself to the little things. In a social media age of ‘epic’ everything and a billion kudos or likes, it’s still the tiny details that make me fall in love with cycling.

The little joys of cycling

These are the real marginal gains of cycling, adding up not to speed but love.

  • Riding a clean chainset. Smooth.
  • The sound of your sprocket freewheeling when you’re tired
  • Ice cold cola after a long hot day on the bike
  • Early morning, pre-ride, dressed in your Sunday best, staring at an empty blue sky
  • Laying out your kit the night before a ride in the order you will dress come the morning
  • A tailwind and that unmistakable feeling of being quicker than you are (fools us every time)
  • Drafting a lorry, fingers on brakes, heart in mouth
  • Random animal sightings. Oh look, a deer.
  • Desperately searching for loose change in your saddlebag on a hot day and finding it – just enough for an ice-cold can of coke
  • Leaning into a corner at 30 mph plus
  • The sound of deep rims whirring behind you before the pimped out bike and rider leave you trailing
  • Stopping at traffic lights on a hot day and realising how much you are sweating
  • That next day feeling after a hard ride, not quite of tiredness (that comes on day 2) but of peace
  • Watching your odometer digitally tick over to 100 miles
  • A golden cup on a starred Strava segment
  • Cresting a hill at speed, legs as strong an ox
  • The smells. Sunday pub lunches when you’re hungry, freshly cut grass, strong perfume on a busy city street
  • A joke and a smile with a car driver or an exchange of thank yous as one gives way to another
  • The little gestures of hello between strangers, cyclists passing one another, a knowing nod or wave
  • Riding hard to outrun a storm, getting home and watching the skies empty with satisfaction
  • A blustery day when you’re strong, wind meaningless
  • Sunrise rides, a blanket of mist on the fields
  • Riding through the clouds atop a mountain
  • Drafting in a large group, the peloton sucking you along effortlessly
  • New handlebar tape, self applied. Best upgrade ever?
  • Descending. Say no more.
  • Catching an unexpected draft from a passing group when tired and being towed
  • Kill me now. The moment any interval on the turbo ends
  • An unexpected view, breathtaking
  • The sound of your cleats clicking into your pedals when you first clip in at the start of a ride
  • Finding a water tap in the middle of nowhere when you’re thirsty
  • Warm fingers and toes on a cold ride, thank you lobster gloves/overshoes
  • Strangers cheering you up a steep hill, thank you
  • Hitting a massive pothole but not puncturing
  • Stretching your legs towards the end of a long hard ride. Ahhhh.
  • All the food you’ll eat for the remainder of the day. Mounds of the stuff.
  • Tan lines, all year round
  • Learning how to walk again after a long day on the bike

What about you? Which of cycling’s little pleasures always splash a goofy grin across your face?

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21 thoughts on “The little things I love about cycling

  1. Pausing my attempts to break land speed records to freewheel for a bit, and realizing how many different shades of green there are. Seeing someone else up ahead and turning it up to catch them…only to realized it is a kid on a BMX bike or a runner–but still not slowing down until they have been properly dropped. Racing against myself–trying to get to a certain landmark before my own countdown hits zero. The joy of being on a bike just because it’s fun–and feeling like a kid again doing it. Everything you already mentioned. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Buying and eating fresh fruit from a road side stall miles from home on a sweltering day. Discovering that the secret cycling café now sells a simple Affogato (Espresso and vanilla ice cream), Cresting the climb for the first time after weeks of defeat, just starting a twenty plus minute descent, to ride with good friends…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seeing your Strava segment times take a nose dive whilst reviewing multi year progress, feels good knowing how far you’ve come in terms of increased strength, better cycling technique/knowledge, (some:) ) mental toughness & lower body weight. Just feels good, feels like pride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true although I fear the plateau and then, argh, the decline! Perhaps I might enjoy the ride even more once my inner chimp disappears. Perhaps… !


  4. Feeling joy at seeing butterflies, birds and other critters alive and not as my roadkill. Losing that swarm of biting flies on the downhill. Feeling the seasons change up close and personal. Outriding that rain squall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The seasons, love watching the seasons change. Not sure if it makes the year mentally slow down or speed up but it sure does keep you in the moment. Shame the UK is moving towards three seasons – Winter, Spring, Autumn and repeat!


  5. Sometimes, when I’m descending a hill in the middle of nowhere, I scream as loud as I can in excitement at the exhilaration I’m feeling, and for a moment I feel like a child again. No stress, no worry, just freedom in that moment. That is one of my favourite things about cycling, that feeling, that can fill the heart of a grown man and make him feel like a kid again, if only for a short time.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. – bunny-hopping over a pothole. You are Peter Sagan.
    – a tailwind on the way home. You are Cancellara
    – when people overtake in cars and yell “Allez allez!” At least I think that’s what they are shouting…
    – indexing your own gears. More money to spend on other stuff. Such as beer.
    – catching up and overtaking cars on an Alpine descent. Its not big and its not clever. But it is soooo much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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