My absolution. My altar.

Saved By The Bike

Saved By The Bike

by / / 151 posts

Addiction is typically defined as a bad thing. Addiction to drugs, to alcohol, sex or even work is usually portrayed as a condition to be battled, to overcome. The same sources may recommend a strict regime of regular exercise and healthy living as the perfect antidote to the bad addictions that befall an overwhelming majority of the general populace. We are convinced that an ‘exercise addict’, ‘gym junkie’ or ‘health nut’ is a tag that we should be proud to hang around our necks, not something to be fought. But take away the words ‘exercise’, ‘gym’ and ‘health’, and all you’re left with is an undesirable character of questionable sanity with bad skin and rotten teeth. And no-one wants to be that person.

I’ve known, and know, a lot of people with a lot of addictions during my life. Moreso, I’ve been/am one myself. Both good and bad. The one unifying addiction throughout has been Cycling. It seems Cyclists are of the predisposition that doing something, anything, is best done to excess. I don’t really have any Cycling friends who ‘just do it on the weekends’, as one might play golf or go to the movies or ballroom dancing. Ok, those ballroom dancers seem to be a bit obsessed, too. But Cyclists, no matter how hard they try to kick the habit just seem to keep coming back, over and over again. And I’ve never heard a doctor or so-called expert tell a Cyclist to give that shit up before it sends them to an early grave. So what we’ve got ourselves is a ‘good addiction’.

Long before I ever read the tale of Guns n Roses’ bassist Duff McKagan’s pancreas exploding and his subsequent absolution through mountain biking (in BIKE magazine sometime in the 90s), I’d been fighting my own demons, and using the bike to help conquer them. Still am. Being a hard-drinking/drugging bassist (then later a DJ) and mountain biker myself at the time, I drew a lot of comparisons between us. I took some inspiration from his story, despite not being a fan of the band, and used it to tip the balance in favour of riding rather than partying.

I’d also been surrounded by a lot of other Cyclists who had delved a lot further into the sport than I ever had, and who had their own personal battles to fight. Some were up against alcoholism, others drugs, depression, or failed relationships. And on more than a few occasions, I heard the term “saved by the bike” quoted. Among all the turmoil, in the maelstrom of a life gone awry, their constant saving grace, the rock on which they could rebuild a solid foundation for happiness, or at least some form of normality – contentment, perhaps – was the bicycle. It was always there for them, silent, trustworthy, reliable, even if many other aspects of their situation weren’t. I wouldn’t hesitate to wager that it still is there for most, if not all of them. I know it is for me, and always will be.

Whenever I need saving, I know where to look.

 

// Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @scaler911

    @RedRanger

    I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I took a women MTBing as a first date. Well, date #2 is tomorrow. The bike is truly amazing indedd.

    Maybe on the 3rd date, you can bust out this:

    Sweet baby jeebus. For every completely awesome restored tandem you bust out something like this. How do you even use that thing? If I google it am I going to have to burn my laptop afterwards?

  2. @frank

    @Sandy154

    I have to say, as the founder of this heap, it makes me really happy to see people share their experiences. This helps others grow and feel commeraderie. I call this thing a community, and I’m proud to say one of the things that sets us apart from other cycling sites is this characteristic, and the nothion that we don’t sit around talking about what kind of bolt is the lightest and will make us fastest.

    Its all about the bike, but life fits in there somewhere, too. You might be at the wrong site if this doesn’t appeal to you. And that’s not an affront or judgement.

    Frank, a reasonable and tolerant response, which is to your credit.  Personally, though, I favour  slightly more statements pressing of the same underlying point, thus: “Dear Sandy, if you don’t like the site, don’t fucking read it. We don’t come around to your house and shit on your carpet, so don’t do it to us. Dickhead.”

    As for the rest of you: tremendous reading.  My cycling, like my participation in this community, is currently at a low point, due to pressures of work and family and life. But I have been missing both, and will be back to both with more vigour when circumstances permit.  Meantime, the occasional trip here, like the occasional bike ride when I can get a couple of hours, is a welcome tonic and cherished accordingly.

    Brett, well played, mate.

  3. @Deakus

    @Harminator

    Good morning America.

    Its beer o’clock in Sydney and I’ve just stumbled upon a local supplier:-

    I could give up anytime…

    Damn the music seemed better at the time, but maybe that was the amount of Leffe in the system!

    Grange Hill? Argh . . . the flashbacks, the flashbacks! Thanks for posting, now I’ll have Just Say No in my head all weekend.

  4. @the Engine

    @RedRanger

    @scaler911 by the 3rd date I hope to be busting out something else, and it wont be bike related.

    Don’t tell me you go running too…

    3rd date? That would be some kind of triathlon then?

  5. @the Engine

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @wiscot

    Wouldn’t that be “wasted” not waisted? Insert emoticon.

    Thank you for noticing. I’m here all week.

    Missed a trick there old man – should have pointed out that your teaching years were indeed a bit narrow in the middle.

    I didn’t get that year at Cambridge, but my student eval’s were fabulous.

  6. @xyxax

    @RedRanger

    @scaler911 by the 3rd date I hope to be busting out something else, and it wont be bike related.

    And just to jump ahead optimistically, as a wedding present, you can get her one of these, with your name (sort of) on the down tube

    Do this first. Weddings are expensive and prevent you from doing things like this.

    The more I think about it, the more reasons occur to me to do this first. For instance, If you do this first, and she loves loves loves you for it, and later you decide you want to marry her,the more likely she’ll be to cut you slack on post-wedding n+1.

    Speaking of therapeutics (we were, weren’t we?), I’m off this morning for five days of flyfishing on the sunny high-desert Deschutes River in Oregon, my old home waters, with a few men of intelligence and good taste. They’re letting me fish with them.

  7. @xyxax I have been reading about those. Pretty nice actually.

  8. @PeakInTwoYears Enjoy the fishing!

    One of the most beautifully atmospheric pieces of film…

  9. @PeakInTwoYears

    @xyxax

    @RedRanger

    @scaler911

    The more I think about it, the more reasons occur to me to do this first. For instance, If you do this first, and she loves loves loves you for it, and later you decide you want to marry her,the more likely she’ll be to cut you slack on post-wedding n+1.

    Post-wedding?  If she digs cycling, why wait?  Do your wedding registry at your LBS and the V-Shop!

  10. Beautifully written.

  11. @VeloVita I like that way of thinking. Although she is only 5’4″ so a 29er may not work for her.

  12. @RedRanger if your new prospect’s name is Sara, I think your plans are out in the open.

  13. @RedRanger

    @VeloVita I like that way of thinking. Although she is only 5’4″³ so a 29er may not work for her.

    I just can’t bring myself to touch that one even though you’ve set it up so beautifully

  14. @Marcus nope, not Sara

    @the Engine please do.

  15. Wow, cheers to all who shared stories.  You are all quite inspiring and frankly, I’m proud to be a member of this community.  I’m still battling my demons daily. And at the risk of offending Sandy (I’m kidding) I want to encourage all of you to keep telling your stories. They are valuable and empowering.

  16. I find myself planning my next fix within hours of coming back from a ride.

  17. Truly wonderful to read all these stories and the catalyst for all of them being shared, Brett’s article.  I too am a proud member of this community and recently quit smoking for several reasons.  Firstly, I’m gonna be a dad in November and secondly, because I climb like Sisyphus.  It’s three weeks since I quit and last week as my cycling buddy followed me up a climb near St Andrews, his HRM alarm went off for the first time ever.  He thinks he was ill or something but I think that I laid down some V for the first time in my life.  Sweet vie velominatus, and thanks to you all for sharing.

  18. @snoov

    Truly wonderful to read all these stories and the catalyst for all of them being shared, Brett’s article. I too am a proud member of this community and recently quit smoking for several reasons. Firstly, I’m gonna be a dad in November and secondly, because I climb like Sisyphus. It’s three weeks since I quit and last week as my cycling buddy followed me up a climb near St Andrews, his HRM alarm went off for the first time ever. He thinks he was ill or something but I think that I laid down some V for the first time in my life. Sweet vie velominatus, and thanks to you all for sharing.

    Looking forward to a good view of you back wheel on Saturday then

  19. One of my favorite articles on this site. Well done, Brett.

    -Dinan

  20. All right, I am going  right out and ask, I have been in southern California for 6 months and have been riding solo up and down the mountains here. I am gonna come out and ask right now, I would not mind a riding partner now and then! I don’t know anyone down here and I am a slow and antisocial jerk.

  21. These excellent articles and threads continue to move me, make me laugh and make me think.

    I have been cycling for a year, and now here I am 17 kilos (2.77 stone, 38 lbs) lighter and finally aware of in what a gorgeous part of the earth I live. Addicted? Fuck, yes! Addicted to living a happy life until my legs fail me.

    @anthony sands “slow and antisocial” sounds good, so I’d be in if it weren’t for those bloody 5600 miles between us.

  22. At the risk of being the 2nd most unpopular poster in this thread I can see what Sandy is saying as often addiction comes about as a result of the choices we make ourselves rather than them being inflicted upon us. I dabbled in various substances that many become addicted to in my youth but made a choice that whilst the high was great I understood the risk of repeated consumption so refrained.

    I get that others dont have that restraint and watched friends end their lives far too early because they were unable to stop themselves despite help from me and others.

    If speaking about these issues within this site helps people deal with their issues and they benefit from the support then I am all for it and say good luck to you all, life is too short so try not to shorten it any further. I cycle because I love it and many would say I am obsessed with it but it keeps me fit and is my “me time” away from the 9-5.

    Sandy if you dont like what people have said just move along and say nothing, you haven’t made any positive contribution to this thread. Everyone else just ignore Sandy, by responding he gets what he wanted which is a reaction to his little strop.

  23. Interesting article. I’m trying my damnedest to get addicted to cycling. Catch 22 though. If I ditch work I won’t have any money to buy cycling gear but work gets in the way of using the cycling gear.

    I suppose I can take crack AND go to work…

  24. @Deakus

    Hadn’t seen that in forever, thank you. The Deschutes: gorgeous, cruel, fragile, snake-fanged, sweet, and harsh:

    We put in ten-hour days away from camp, to avoid getting skunked. The river was being a bastard fish nazi this trip. Some days we saw more rattlesnakes than trout. But I still love it.

  25. Thanks foor sharring your info. I truly appreciate
    your efforts and I will bee waiting for your next write upps thank yoou once again.

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