I have often tried to analyze what it is about cycling, in particular riding a road bike that makes it a life long passion.
Many people, including myself, have had periods when we stopped riding, but we are always drawn back at some point or other.
Non-cyclists can’t understand it, and it is only another cyclist having the same passion who can.
Passions derive from sensations, feelings. I don’t think anyone can explain why certain simple things in life give us so much pleasure.
A beautiful sunset, the taste of a favorite food, or a particular sound. These things have to be experienced to understand, and even then, another person may not have the same sensation.
Out riding alone last November on a quiet country road, the weather was dry and sunny, but cool. The sound of acorns popping under my tires caught my attention. The whole road carpeted with acorns, freshly fallen from overhanging Live Oak trees; it was impossible not to ride over them.
Driving a car, that sensation would not be there, even if I had the windows down and could hear the sound. Walking or running, or simply stomping on the acorns would not have had the same affect.
It had something to do with the speed, and a feeling that only another cyclist would fully understand; the feeling that came from knowing that I was the source of propulsion. The feeling of effort, muscle power transformed into forward motion.
The sound somehow drove me to push harder, and gave me renewed energy. The faster I rode the more rapid the popping sound, and the more intense the feeling.
This feeling was close to the sensation of flying, without actually leaving the ground. In fact, the minimum contact with the ground or road was a large part of the feeling.
As a seven or eight year old, I remember running two miles to school and back home twice each day. Running was effortless, there was no pain, and it seemed like my feet were not touching the ground. Rather I was flying, with each step a fraction of an inch above the ground.
Later as an adult when I ran, I felt every jarring step. However, riding a road bike at speed I sometimes get that same sensation of weightlessness and just barely skimming the surface of the road.
I am guessing the rapidly popping acorns enhanced that feeling by adding a sound to the sensation.
Out riding the same road yesterday, the acorns now swept to the side by passing traffic. It was still possible to ride over them by riding close to the edge of the road, but now soaked by recent rains; they no longer produced that same pleasant popping sound.
It looks like I will have to wait until next fall to experience this sensation again. It is sensations like this that turn simple pleasures into passions.