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How I fell in love with cycling

Words by Nathan Irvine

Arriving at the sport late, EDGAR’s Nathan Irvine recounts how cycling gave him a sense of freedom while the rest of the world was in lockdown.

I’ve always liked the idea of cycling. I’ve rented bikes while on holiday and feigned interest in the Tour de France whenever it pops up on TV. But actively participating in the sport? Not so much.

I bought a fairly expensive – by my standards, anyway – bike a few years ago in an effort to get out more. Sadly, once the initial enthusiasm had faded it was relegated to the spare room to gather dust. “I’ll go tomorrow”, I optimistically thought.

But then a weird thing happened. When the entire world went into lockdown due to coronavirus, I suddenly felt compelled to start cycling more. The rise in quarantine weight was the main driving force to get on my bike.

Despite toying with the idea of getting a stationary indoor trainer (a device that mimics outdoor cycling conditions), I decided to wait for Dubai’s Al Qudra cycle track to open to the public again.

I pedalled into the deep end from the off and took on the 50km loop. To be honest, I was relatively broken by the end of it. A lack of sunscreen and water taught me a valuable lesson that day. Heatstroke and dehydration aside, I found I enjoyed it.

Le Col Cycling fashion is big business with the likes of Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins collaborating on clothing.

Get out

I loved the freedom and alone time that has become a rarity in such a busy life. I embraced the grinding hill climbs as much as I did the downhill sprints. And despite my lower back aging by about 30 years by the end, I was surprised how well my body handled the endurance.

And that was that. I was bitten by the cycling bug.

Now I’ve gone full MAMIL (Middle Age Men In Lycra). In fact, during the last six months, I’ve added more cycling bib shorts, shoes and jerseys to my wardrobe than everyday clothing.

I found myself subscribing to YouTube channels dedicated to cycling – gobbling up the hints and tips on how to improve. I’ve personally added new bits and bobs to my bike and somehow not broken the thing. Not bad for someone who not long ago didn’t know his aerobars from his elbow pads. I even got excited about the weekend rolling around recently so I could wash my bike.

Wheelie fun

Gamifying the world of cycling with Strava has also hooked me in. Checking out segments every morning to see which ones you’re at the top of the table for is incredibly addictive. And companies such as UK outfit Le Col reward your efforts with discount vouchers you can spend on even more clothing.

And this is probably the biggest indicator of how much I’m into it – we just moved to a house where I can be on the track within minutes from my front door. I wouldn’t say it was the casting decision on where we moved to, but cycle tracks were on my mental inventory of wants.

And next? Well, I’ve been eyeing up cycling holidays at picturesque places around the world, but my better half is yet to be convinced that our three kids – or her, for that matter – will enjoy it as much me. I can dream.

In a world that feels as though it's continuously closing in, cycling breaks the walls down. The moments to simply think whilst the gentle hum of your wheels spin, is a simple, but much needed pleasure. It might've caught me by surprise, but at 38 I feel like I’ve found a hobby that’s not a total waste of time. From sort of liking cycling to absolutely loving it is a change of gears that I’ve welcomed with open arms.

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