It’s a Hobby!

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It might be challenging to understand cycling enthusiasts when you aren’t one. We spend a lot of money on bikes, then spend a lot of time getting into shape, and then we go on rides to nowhere, and come home tired. After all this effort, we are back exactly where we started. We haven’t achieved anything. Except that we are happy.

Perhaps that is the definition of a hobby – something that isn’t necessarily useful, but that gives you satisfaction and makes you happy. For some cyclists, it’s hard to justify spending time and money on what is “just” a hobby. Shouldn’t we focus on more “important” things, like a new car or an addition to the house?

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It took me a while to realize that my “hobby” actually is among the most important things in my life. It struck me when I read about David Purley, a British refrigerator maker who raced his own Formula 1 team in the 1970s. When his car’s competitiveness flagged, he assembled his team and admonished them:

“For you, this may just be a job. But you have to understand: For me, it’s a hobby!”

Purley turned the normal priorities on their head. Shouldn’t a job be more important than a hobby? Yet Purley’s comment stuck with me. It’s about passion. Racing was Purley’s passion, and he was concerned that for his team, it was just a job, something where adequate performance was good enough.

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Our passions, whether it’s Formula 1 racing or cycling, are the things that define us. To me, they are the most important things in my life. That is why it’s so important to go out and ride with friends. I make it a priority, not something that I try to fit into a busy schedule as an afterthought. Because cycling is my passion.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Compass Cycles, that turns our research into high-performance components for real-world riders.
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24 Responses to It’s a Hobby!

  1. Dan says:

    Perfect!!!!

  2. sisyphus says:

    Fabulous essay, Jan, and spot on.

  3. 47hasbegun says:

    Hobbies are what give us needed distraction from the stresses of everyday life!

  4. Guy Washburn says:

    Essence captured.

  5. cbratina says:

    What other hobby keeps you young? At 67, my doctor was shocked at my 41 BPM resting pulse, 110/70 blood pressure, 178 BPM max heart rate, and low body fat.
    A gym membership will cost more than a new bike every 10 years.

  6. Matthew J says:

    My bike allows me to live without a car.

    An addition to my house would only encourage spending more on things to fill the space.

  7. Matt says:

    For me it’s a lifestyle. It is my preferred form of transportation, my work both in bicycle retail and advocacy, and my hobby is frame building. But every time I leave the house on my bike, I try and treat it like an adventure, it’s grounding and helps me stay connected to both my body and the world around me. It has given me a community, both locally and afar.

  8. Cyclosomatic says:

    Absolutely agree. Passion is a key component of the grit required to become truly proficient at anything. Those who are passionate and ‘gritty’ tend to live happier lives, but for those of us who are introspective, it’s a delicate balancing act. My family’s support is what makes living my passion possible. This freakanomics podcast episode gets into the subject of ‘grit;’ it’s great. Their preceding episodes are also well worth a listen, on self-improvement. http://freakonomics.com/podcast/grit/

  9. Stephen Bamford says:

    Kudos to Mr. Heine for his love of the hobby. As Bobby Jones, the famous golfer of legendary renown referred to himself as an amateur, Mr. Heine clearly loves the ‘hobby’ and that says it all. I would add, that with the love of the hobby, at least in Mr. Heine’s case, he clearly supports his habit with expertise on the subject from which all of us can benefit.

  10. joey says:

    My hobby allows me to dress like everyone else, and not stand out like an oddball.

  11. john titus says:

    my wife recently ordered me to ride my bike first, then go to work. i love her.

  12. Preston Grant says:

    It may seem odd to mix cycling and aviation, but I am reminded of the poem “High Flight”, written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., who died at age 19 in a Spitfire accident. The poem is easily found on the internet. It has been quoted by presidents, and is nearly universally known among aviators and many who merely who work in aviation, as I did. The final three lines:
    “While with silent, lifting mind, I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God”
    Cycling may not be the same activity as flying, but the feeling, for me, is the same: Spiritual.
    cbratina, I am now 76, and still get my heart rate to 178 with no ill effect.

  13. VincentB says:

    To me it’s more than a hobby: it’s a way of life🙂🙂

  14. In a society where the expectation is that there is a reason for doing everything, you begin to understand – if you a truly a cyclist – that old Zen story about the Master who asks his students why they rode their bikes, and why the answer “I ride my bike to ride my bike” truly is profound. But you really have to think about it. And then you get it.

  15. David Pearce says:

    Wow, that is a great thought, to turn the normal cliché around, even better than (the U.S. Navy’s?) “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!”

    I hope, in some of those in-between your hobby times, you are examining the proofs for the 2017 Off the Beaten Path Calendar!🙂

  16. Jim says:

    Well put Jan, if only I could put the same passion into my job as I do my hobbies, but it’s a job and the way I look at it the job gives me the money and the time off to pursue my passions

  17. Hornbeam says:

    Just perfect

  18. velocipedium says:

    Work to live. Live to ride. Ride to work.

  19. Drew Carlson says:

    Reminds me of the difference between being a professional and an amateur. We do it for love, not money. Great article, Jan!

  20. Toumbi says:

    As a general counsellor at a community service agency, I work with quite a few folks struggling with addictions. At some stage in the process we generally talk about the things that give their lives meaning other than the pursuit of the addiction. With remarkable consistency, after talking about work (and sometimes children), the client will then say “do you mean hobbies?”. That used to throw me for a bit of a loop, because I don’t think of my “hobbies” in those terms. For me the categories are work, distractions, and life. Cycling falls in the “life” category. If I didn’t have my “hobbies”, I would worry that I didn’t have a life.

  21. John Duval says:

    To ride is to be in the world, and hover above at the same time. To be still, and in constant action. To escape, and be fully there. To never let a moment drift by unnoticed, less the earth remind us how hard it is.

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