It’s January. It’s freezing cold and sunshine is noticeable for its absence. And all of a sudden ride buddies are scarcer than hen’s teeth and we all have a hundred and one reasons not to ride. Which got me thinking about motivation – and not those fluffy #inspo mantras on social media, but what really moves us to get out on a bike. And I have come to the conclusion that is about connection – both with each other and the outdoors.
Here’s why connection matters.
This epic photograph of the legendary Tracy Moseley chatting to a young fan was shot at the Hope Women Enduro last year (thanks to Hope Tech and photographer Roo Fowler for this image!). I love it because, like all great photographs, it tells a wonderful story – and not just that girls who wear glasses (as I do) can ride bikes. I don’t know who the little girl is, but I so want to believe that she is meeting her hero here. It’s a heart melting moment of trust and friendship – and it throws up as many questions as it answers. Because it occurs to me that the little girl may not be the only person in this image who went away feeling inspired to ride: I wonder if the mighty TMo felt that too?
And it made me think – what motivates Moseley to get back on her bike when there is no race to train for? When it doesn’t really matter if she stays in by the fire instead of braving a cold mountain side? When she doesn’t really feel like it? The opportunity to be a champion to young riders like this one must be a huge incentive for her to stay awesome on a bike.
And then there is this. In 2018 ultra-cyclist Paula Regener and bikepacker Lee Craigie of The Adventure Syndicate will be working with five schools across Scotland in their Inspiring, Encouraging and Enabling Schools Project, funded by the Sporting Equality Fund. The team will use bike packing adventures to engage teenage girls and help build their self-esteem, resilience and confidence. These amazing images, stuffed with glee and achievement, capture the spirit of a previous overnight adventure that the team led. None of these girls had ever carried everything they needed on their bikes, nor cooked and slept outside before. I don’t think I have ever seen a bunch of riders who are so connected with the experience and each other.
I heard Lee and Emily Chappell from The Adventure Syndicate speak at the NEC bike show last year, and took away my own golden nugget of motivation. Endurance rider Emily explained how she keeps pushing when she’d really rather pull over to the side of the road (and, if she was me, have a sulk) by connecting with her ‘invisible peloton’ – a place to go when ‘you don’t have any strength of your own, so you start borrowing other people’s’.
It’s a wonderful concept, originally thought up by adventurer Sarah Outen, that I’d like to return to in a future post but for now, and to get me out of the door and on my bike, I’m connecting with my own invisible peloton of inspiration: absent friends, those I’d like to ride with in the future, those I can’t ride with again because they are no longer with us, and Lee, Paula, Emily, Sarah and TMo. And maybe Tom Hardy.
And the sun has come out. So I’m outta here.
Who inspires you to ride when its January and you’d really rather not bother? Let me know and, inspired by Emily and Sarah, build an invisible peloton of your own!