Bicycling as a Rite of Passage
Here in Tahoe and maybe in your community too, bicycling as a rite of passage has been and continues to be for many a significant development. Who can remember getting their first bike? I invite you to take a moment, and recall how you felt with your first bike, and then consider how it may have influenced your life.
As I pondered these questions myself, I began thinking about how bicycling in my early childhood transformed my life then and continues on today in adulthood. I thought I would have to dive deep to accessed those early memories of excitement, joy and freedom. What surprised me is that I really did not have to dive deep at all because those memories were right there fresh and accessible, but something was different. The difference was I now understand those early experiences with the eyes of a trained observer, an observer with years of training and coaching using a Somatic approach to understanding the interplay of our physical, mental, emotional and social development.
What is a rite of passage and how does bicycling become an initiate? A rite of passage is an event or ceremony marking an important change in someone’s life. In bicycling, that rite can be youth learning to ride a bike for the first time and realizing their newly found freedom with independence of mobility, or an adult riding their first 100-mile century road ride for example.
I continued exploring the attributes and benefits that can be transformative when the love of bicycling enters one’s life. In looking at bicycling as a rite of passage, I realize we seldom see it that way, speak about it or share those thoughts with others.
I thought it would be fun to share some of my insights — thinking that you too might recognize how bicycling became, or could become, a rite of passage for you. The following bullet points are a list of some benefits to be experienced with frequent bicycling. Check them out and see which of them validates your understanding and appreciation of bicycling as a rite of passage in your life.
- Learning to coordinate the body-mind for skillful balancing
- Oxygenating the brain to increase focus and creative thinking
- Stimulating the production of “happy hormones” (dopamine, serotonin) enhancing positive mood and self-image
- Promoting cardiovascular exercise helping to reduce stress, blood pressure and ease anxiety
- Improving muscle tone and strength; building bones and helping reduce body fat
- Providing a lifelong healthy activity that can carry into adulthood
- Fostering understanding the role of regular physical exercise contributes to overall health and well-being
- Learning to overcome fear of the unknown
- Learning we can “fail forward” – get up after a fall and try again
- Evoking a sense of freedom (autonomy) with independent mobility
- Fostering self-reliance and positive self-image
- Increasing self-awareness about our approach to learning something new
- Promoting appreciation of the outdoors
- Helping positively and constructively channel our energy
- Helping feel rewarded and a sense of accomplishment with success
- Fostering socialization with peers
- Promoting a sense of belonging – stronger group affinity
- Affirming societal, community, moral and physical values
- Fostering environmental awareness and contribution
- Supporting an active lifestyle and ecological world view
I am hopeful the reviewing of these attributes and benefits have prompt a reconnection to your early experiences and deepen your understanding of how bicycling has or can become a rite of passage for you. I assure you, the relatively simple act of riding a bicycle can have profound effects on your life or in the life of others – no matter what age one starts pedaling. Enjoy the ride.