I don’t remember the day I learned how to ride a bicycle. Like almost everyone, maybe I automatically learned how to ride one when I was growing up.
But here’s what I remember, I got my first bicycle after my high school graduation. It got stolen on my birthday in the same year. I seldom use it anyway, I’m more into playing basketball than riding a bicycle.
A year after, I got a completely torn ACL on my left knee and never had the surgery, and a torn ACL will not heal on its own. The doctor told me to avoid highly pivotal activities if I chose to live with a torn ACL. I had to stop playing basketball which is a huge chunk of my life.
It’s not even a choice. We just can’t afford the surgery. For almost 5 years, I am barely running and barely doing physical things because of my unstable knee. Other ligaments are starting to be affected too. I hear “snap” and “pop” whenever I tried playing before. Then I decided I have to forget that I once knew how to play the sport.
And forgetting something is much difficult than not knowing it in the first place.
Getting back into Cycling
During the quarantine—when the world is collapsing and sleep is getting harder—I went back into cycling. I decided to restore my late Tito’s old bicycle into a hybrid bicycle. And then my friends and I start riding around the city. 6 months into lockdown, who would’ve thought that I will now see cycling better than riding a motorcycle? I’ve found myself a new hobby, and my fragile knee can handle it.
A motorcycle is faster and efficient, but I always find myself riding a bicycle whenever I have to go out. And then I realized, it’s not about how convenient the other one is, or which one is faster. It’s much more than that.
A new perspective
Cycling makes me see the world from a new perspective. I started to notice things on the same road that I haven’t notice before. The wind splashing on my face felt different when I’m on a bicycle. There’s the stoplight that is a bit out of time. The kid who’s always sitting under the same lamp post. A strange-looking tree shadowing a big part of the road—which is now a headquarters for all the delivery guys waiting for their orders. I already memorized all the pothole on a certain road for me to dodge it a few meters before. On one corner, there’s a blue plastic bag that has been there since last month.
I’ve been there before, but details are clearer when I’m on a bicycle.
Cycling is tiring
I always thought I’m numb, but cycling is tiring. I started to hear my legs beating like a drum after a ride. Lungs felt shrinking when the road is as steep as a mountain. Pain makes me feel alive. At least it makes me feel something. And this is the kind of pain I already forgot when I stop doing physical things.
And then I realized, maybe I’m into cycling because I wanted to feel exhausted physically just like when I was 14. How I missed the feeling of catching my breath once again. My shirt dripping in my own sweat like it was straight out of a washing machine.
And maybe because sleep is easier when you’re tired physically, not when you’re tired mentally.
Cycling is hard work
Cycling makes me feel that I’ve worked hard for something. That I pushed myself to reach a destination even if it’s raining or under the heat of the sun. Partly because we always crave rewards after every hard work. However, life won’t give us a reward every single day. We live our lives pushing ourselves into our limits without even knowing if there’s something waiting for us.
But cycling is different, it gives me the fulfillment of getting something after a day of hard work. I can break a sweat and be in pain but I’ll achieve the reward after the day.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a long ride or a short ride. Even a city ride still provides the fulfillment of achieving something. And when I reached places using my own strength, it’s more satisfying, more meaningful. An accomplishment that cannot be felt using a car or by motorcycle.
There’s just something about Cycling
Cycling gives me the satisfaction that I can actually move a little forward despite the fragile body I am living, one pedal after another. It gives me hope that maybe we are alive to be in pain, to struggle, and by that thought, it somehow makes the pain more tolerable.
Cycling gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, every pain we’ve been enduring for so long will turn into fruition in the future. Even though the destination seems far—and impossible to achieve in a single day—we’ll still continue because there’s the certainty that it will turn into something.
We just have to keep on pedaling, stop when out of breath, rest, and then continue. All the pain is part of the process. And just like cycling, it’s tiring, but we’ll get there too.