A good friend of mine has recently joined the Mamil club. His wife, intrigued about this new found zest in cycling asked me if it was addictive and an obsession. If so, why?
Recent converts tend to start with the commute to work. In his case, cycling was an escape from the drudgery of a London tube commute, crammed into baking carriages with your face stuffed in someone's armpit. A cycling commute offered (relatively) fresh air and freedom. A feeling that you had taken control back into your own hands and were not dependent on a creaking infrastructure.
Freedom plays a big part in cycling. In my teenage years cycling gave me the chance to spread my wings; to do my own thing without the control of my parents. It's a feeling I'm trying to pass onto my own kids. For Mamils, it's the chance to step outside the confines of the modern world. To escape sitting in a tin box in a line with other tin boxes, fighting for space on our increasingly congested roads. To escape the pace of modern life and experience the slower pace of life on a bicycle. Sometimes to just simply escape for the sake of it. Freedom is an inherent human trait.
In today's society the onset of middle age tends to bring with it an honest reflection on health and it's impact on your life in the third age. Many people have tried running and are nursing the 'dodgy' knees and delicate achilles. Lets face it, the gym is hardly an attractive option. We've all experienced the nagging guilt of paying for membership fees of gyms visited once in a blue moon. Doing nothing and steadily sliding into lethargy is not an option. Set against all the options, cycling offers salvation. No more dodgy knees because it's non impact. The cost of a bicycle can be cheaper than one year's gym membership and it's used a darn sight more frequently. And I can cycle when I'm 75.
Exhilaration, rewarding, challenging and fun are all associated with cycling. It's like having the biggest injection of endorphins, ever. Endorphins are addictive - very addictive. The more you do it, the bigger the hit. It's hard for anyone to resist the clutches of the endorphins.
Whilst cycling offers the chance to escape into solitude, it can also be incredibly social. Even more so in todays social media world. What's not to like about catching up with mates over a ride, with the obligatory coffee and cake stop? It ticks all the boxes right? No hangover from the night before and you burn off the calories from the coffee and cake on the ride home. The ultimate guilt free pleasure. If friendly competition is your thing then sign up to Strava. Tell your friends where and how you've been riding; compete over KOM titles and segment PR's and even cycle for a virtual 'club'.
My friends wife could already answer the the first part of the question but I suspect for her to properly understand my answer to the second part she'll need to join the club.