Many students at Leesville Road High school participate in some form of sport. For some, this means being on a Leesville sports team. For me, it means cycling outside of school on a daily basis. I believe that cycling is a way to relieve stress, explore my surroundings, and workout in a way that is both enjoyable but challenging.
Have you ever felt bogged down by an upcoming test or lots of homework? I sure have. During these moments of stress, I’ve found that cycling is the best medicine. The dopamine hit I get from the first push of the pedals is something I find hard to come by in other places.
This reaction is not too unusual, and is actually expected in most individuals. According to a study published by Harvard Health, “The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.” When I cycle, I experience these exact symptoms, but at elevated levels compared to most other sports. After my ride, I find that my head is usually clear and I can return to doing homework or studying without a persistent feeling of weight looming over me.
Another big draw of cycling for me is being able to see the world from a new perspective. I love nature, and cycling allows me to soak up as much as I want, whenever I want, at a pace that is neither too fast nor too slow. The feeling of cycling down the Raleigh Greenway at speeds close to 20 mph is one of the best in the world, especially when it’s in a part of town you haven’t explored before.
While the greenway is great and all, exploring varied environments is a big draw for me. Everyone knows that you can hike and drive Mt. Mitchell, but cycling is my favorite way to get to the top. Cycling to the top allows you to see all the views that driving would, but at a slower pace so you can take in everything more. Perhaps the mountains don’t call to you. Well, cycling NC route 12 is a great way to explore the outer banks as you are only a few feet away from the ocean at times.
Cycling has also allowed me to see the extremes of our country. Take cycling up to Hurricane Ridge from Port Angeles in WA as an example. You start at sea level, and 20 grueling miles later you tower above the town and ocean at an impressive 5,242 feet above sea level. The transformation from mountain to sea in such a short distance allows for cyclists to see breathtaking views and stunning vistas that many drivers miss as they are simply going too fast to be able to view for an extended period of time.
However, the biggest reason I cycle is for the perfect balance of exercise and enjoyment it provides. Everytime I go for a cycle, I never feel like it was too easy nor do I feel it was so hard that it sucked all of the enjoyment out of everything. Perhaps the most fun part of cycling in my opinion is entering races. Races allow you to gauge how you’ve progressed while also scratching the competitive itch that many people have. As an added bonus, finishing on the podium after a race is one of the best feelings for an athlete.