Bicycling for Balance – Women’s Voices

Our ubiquitous relationship with balance begins as infants, as we attempt the topsy-turvy practice of rolling over, the hesitant crawl, and toddling about on two feet. Next is pairing psychological balance with physical balance, as any who have tumbled off a bike or had a moment of panic with vertigo can attest to. We are better with balance and balance is essential to our being. As women, we’re bombarded with messages about balance and need to sort through the noise to determine what truly brings us balance in life.

As cyclists, we know the physical relationship with balance all too well; one adjustment in the wrong direction and the rock garden you were set to clear is now a nemesis. The incorrect weight shift in a corner may have you learning more than you wanted to about pavement.

Balance on the bike is a constant ebb and flow, with necessary micro adjustments occurring as situations change and evolve, as our body receives inputs from our surroundings. Balance in life can be defined in similar terms.

I set out on a virtual journey to find out how bicycling creates balance for modern women, of all types of cycling disciplines. Here’s what they had to say:

Cycling is a way to keep my body moving until the water returns for whitewater kayaking. Having my mind focused fully on a physical activity helps me reduce stress, there’s no time to think about all those little things that don’t really matter. There’s just something pristine and calming about human-powered activity.  –– Hannah

Mountain biking is the best form of meditation – you cannot think about anything except the ground in front of you. It is the best way to clear my head and it is something you can always improve at.  –– Myla

I love the playful aspect of being on a bike. I’ve had some great realizations while riding bike, specifically, where your eyes go, your bike goes. It makes me think about personal goals I’ve set and how I may be so focused on what could go wrong I haven’t properly set my eyes on the path I want to take or practiced the skills to get me over the obstacle. –– Janelle

I’ve done yoga for years, and I thought that this was the only active meditation that I would ever practice. After my friends introducing me to cycling, I began to notice nature and my surroundings and check in with myself and how I’m feeling. A 50° day this January was one of my most memorable rides because it was a break from winter weather and a breath of fresh air, physically and mentally. –– Jessalyn

One of my happiest moments was riding a bicycle in Barcelona and I realized the feelings of autonomy, independence and complete freedom are something I treasure so much in my life; the embodiment of that I felt while cycling was just incredible. –– Madhuvanthai

Moving, especially on a bike is so good for mental health and stress. I find that a 20-minute bike ride can help me manage stress and in general feel better. I try to remind myself that getting on the bike is part of creating work/life balance, but it also supports a sense of well-being! — Misty

When cycling you need to focus on the road but need to look further ahead. If you look too close in front of you, you lose perspective and direction. I believe that cycling is a combination of concentration and relaxation. Cycling brings me a sensation of freedom and independence. –– Lucia

Mountain biking relaxes me, puts me in a completely creative headspace, and pumps up my self-confidence. It’s typical for me to be stumped on a design, come back from a ride and then have the solution all worked out in my head. Or if I was feeling low before a ride, I’d come back ready to take on the world! –– Wendy

A ride really helps me diffuse a whole bunch of mental/emotional stuff that can lead me to feeling scattered or on edge. I’ve found that it’s been one of the best tools with helping me have some control over my anxiety. –– Josie

Balance is omnipresent in our lives. In my own life, I strive for physical balance in my yoga practice and on the bike to enhance the experiences, and psychological balance to move forward with enthusiasm in my vocation. The sheer joy of riding a bike, the simple act of being in nature, and the freedom the machine presents all help me find balance in its fullest expression. Balance created through cycling is more than balance in life or on the bike, but encompasses balance for better in society. When we balance the number of women in all sectors of society, on our rides, in our shops, in the cycling industry, in the outdoor industry, and beyond, everyone wins. #BalanceforBetter

The author practicing yoga on a ledge overlooking a large lake at sunrise.
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Michelle helps nonprofits and businesses develop strategy and create community. She works as an educator of many things, presently teaching English and yoga. She just can't stay away from the cycling industry and can be found working in a local bike shop or leading rides and bike clinics. If she's not out riding one of her bikes, practicing yoga, or traveling, she can be found with her nose in a book or creating something wonderful.

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