When cycling becomes an addiction
On the cover of the current issue of RIDE Cycling Review (#70) we ask: Why do you ride? There’s no right or wrong answer and there’s myriad response options for everyone has their own story. One reader of the magazine, Craig Pearman, has offered his take on the matter and, as a way of encouraging others to share their reason(s), here is his explanation…*
Why do I ride?
Because I’m addicted!
Now, being a psychologist, I don’t use that term lightly.
The question of “why I ride” plays on my mind from time to time… especially on wet and windy days – and particularly each time it is raised in RIDE magazine.
Most of the time, I have come up with some fairly commonplace answers as a rationale for my pastime. The exercise, the fresh air, the sense of freedom, the escape, the camaraderie… all of which are good enough reasons.
But the fact is, some days it’s none of those things; like when I’m pressed for time, and it’s windy, and I’m doing a solo ride on a busy road in rush-hour traffic. And that is what led me to the inescapable conclusion: I ride because I’m addicted.
I ride because I “have to”.
Let me explain…
Many of you might relate to the feeling of looking through the window, watching the rain fall and listening to the wind howl, and feeling listless and agitated that you can’t get out for your ride. I know I do. But it’s often more than just boredom. It’s a tangible, palpable sense of discomfort and unease. And if the weather forecast is gloomy, it can become a real sense of foreboding that “maybe I won’t get to ride tomorrow either!”
The experience of my addiction includes not just yearning or preoccupation, but other manifestations too. Irritability when I can’t get my fix. Constantly needing more, further, higher. Frustration with barriers and interruptions. Secretly sneaking one ride in during a break in the work day. Constantly checking weather reports (and Facebook posts) to see when the next one might be possible.
It’s scary, but the signs are all there.
When it comes to the clinical diagnostic criteria of an addiction (and think about your own attachment to cycling as you read this), we’re talking about:
1. Excessive preoccupation;
2. Engaging in it more than intended;
3. Suffering negative after-effects (but doing it anyway);
4. Having it interfere with work, home or social life;
5. Always looking for ways and places to get a “fix”;
6. Needing to do it again even (immediately) after getting hurt.
There’s not a single one of those criteria that I haven’t engaged in over the past 12 months… and often three or more on the same day! So logically, realistically, professionally… I have to admit – to myself and to the world – that the reason I ride is because I’m addicted. But don’t expect to see me at a local 12-step meeting. I’m not ready to seek help for it… not yet!
– By Craig Pearman
*Please note: the tattoos images are of Jascha Sütterlin from the Movistar team, not the author of this piece… we will speak with Jascha soon to find out what inspired “This is my story”.