I started cycling in college as a means of transport. It was cheap and efficient, plus I was able to ride through campus where cars were banned. When I moved to San Francisco, I got a new bike to commute with, but I also started using it for exercise. Now that I live in Oakland, I can no longer ride a bike to work, but I am now 5 years into cycling for exercise.
As a workout, cycling checks off the boxes I’m looking for. It is fast-paced yet requires endurance. Hills add variety and a challenge. Descents are fun and rewarding. Thanks to Strava, I can also meticulously track performance and progress.
I tend to ride alone, but it is a great social activity for 1-1 relationships. There aren’t many things you can do with an acquaintance for a few hours. A ride is a shared goal, and you don’t have to talk the entire time. It’s proven to be an effective activity for building relationships.
One of the things I enjoy most is the zen-like state of mind I get while riding. I am present and focused. My mind can take a break because the constant stream of thoughts stops flowing. Steering, output, and breathing. That’s all I am doing. I think about nothing else. If my mind wanders, I can feel the bike slow down.
The only alternative I have to cycling is skiing, which is limited to the winter and spring seasons. Even mentally, I find them very different - I’ll have to write a post to explain it.