One of my favourite books during my adolescence was Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. This is a cycling blog and not a book review so I’ll spare you the specifics of the book, but for those who haven’t read it, the book focuses on a dystopian future with a suppression of individuality and identity. Thankfully, we’re not currently living in a world plagued by the extreme themes of “Brave New World” (although dystopian fiction is eerily believable). We are however, living in a changing world which is currently presenting a challenging landscape.
As cyclists we heavily invest in the idea of identity and community. We buy specific brands of bicycle components, streamline our bodies with tight fitting lycra and hairless legs, overcomplicate our fitness levels with talk of watts per kilogram, and consume copious amounts of caffeine. We bond over our love/hate relationship with pain and suffering on a bicycle. All avid cyclists know well that cycling hurts more than any other sport that they’ve played. The specific bond and identity of cyclists is what makes our community so unique.
So what happens when that community is threatened?
Due to COVID19 lockdown measures, many cyclists have felt as if they’ve lost a part of their identity in the sport. Furthermore, the community as a whole has had to adapt to the challenge a lockdown places on it. It would be safe to say that a lot of cyclists have found themselves at some stage in the last month grieving the loss of racing, outdoor groups rides, post ride coffees and face to face interaction. All of a sudden it can feel as if the world around us is turning into a dystopian future. But what does a dystopian future require most of all? A loss of identity!
In the last month, we’ve seen cyclists come closer together! The community is using whatever tools we have (praise be to the internet age!) to not only keep engaged, but engage more than we ever have before. Our group rides are swelling with numbers on virtual platforms and some groups are even hosting post ride coffees over video conference apps. This pandemic threatened our community, but it has actually brought us closer together. The identity that we find in the sport of cycling is still strong. We should all be proud of how well we’ve adapted and solved the problems faced in this new climate. When this pandemic passes, and life begins as normal, there will be some communities that will struggle to recover, and some that will fade away altogether bringing with it a loss of identity. I am proud to say that cycling will not be one of them. Our cycling future is not dystopian, and cyclists the world over should stand up and take a bow, and when your family members ask why you just bowed to nobody in your living room reply, “because I am part of the cycling community, and we are as strong as we’ve ever been!”
Normally we like to focus on coaching advice and athlete milestones in our blogs. But sometimes it is nice to show some appreciation to the sport of cycling and the cycling community.