Cycling and well-being

Cycling can be the key to well-being, for as many reasons as there are cyclists.  I cycle everyday for work, or pleasure, or for everyday jobs like shopping, and every ride is different, even if the route is the same.  Being out on the bike I become more aware of the layers of life that surround me, and often see, hear, and smell things I would never encounter in a car.  Stopped at the traffic lights on Silver Street I can see the terracotta friezes high up on the buildings.  Cycling down the Witham I hear cuckoos in the spring.  Cycling in the countryside I can smell the meadowsweet growing in the verges.

A bike supports my well-being in at least two ways.  If my day has been difficult, or if stress is building up, then the exercise of turning the pedals has an immediate effect, a release of tension.  But the journey itself makes me ‘shift’ gear, and of course I am quickly going from one place to another, perhaps putting some distance between me and stress.  Even cycling through a busy rush hour has its value.

The close connections of me, my environment, and my transport keep everything in balance.  I feel that I am doing my bit to reduce my impact on the world by using fewer resources, taking less space, while having a greater ‘presence’ and awareness.  I feel I have a fuller ‘being’ through cycling, giving value to my day and encouraging me to respect nature and the city I am cycling through.

Lincoln is fortunate to have plenty of opportunities for safe cycling.  One of my ideal rides is from the city centre down the Water Rail Way, a Sustrans route that runs from Lincoln to Woodhall Spa.  This is a traffic-free route next to the River Witham with its rich wildlife.  Sometimes this is my commute, and sometimes it is for pleasure; sometimes I am on my own, sometimes I am with my family.  Whichever way, I value it for different reasons.  Same bike, same route, but always varied.

Mark Lilley