Why I Ride

Riding for me has always been a passion. Certainly there have been times when the pain and suffering has caused me to ponder why we do this sport that puts us in danger and pushes us to our limits, but maybe that’s the point. There is risk in what we do and there are physical limits that we encounter. Finding where we can go within or sometimes beyond these limits is part of the human condition, don’t you think?

Plus, we get to go to amazing places in the world and feel the wind in our face – what a feeling of freedom of expression. There is nothing like carving a turn at maximum speed on the limit in a kart, on a ski edge or on a bike. When you can come out of a turn carrying speed and pushing for more, that’s living! As such, I tend to gravitate to the mountains to find challenging climbs that I can push the limit on when I go back down.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been to some amazing places in the world with my bike. I’ve met some of the best people while on a bike ride and simply taking the time to make conversation and find out what they are about. Finding out that someone has cheated death and is recovering from cancer and drinking in everything that they can from life because they feel so fortunate to be alive – that’s life changing.

Riding in the Dolomites of Northern Italy is like riding in a postcard dodging giant biscotti turned on end, and then stopping at a “refugio” for the most amazing apple strudel that you’ve ever tasted. At that moment, there’s nothing more that matters.

Banff, Alberta is just so pristine and awe inspiring. It’s in my own backyard and we often take for granted what we have close by but it really is a national treasure to share. Riding in Banff is so fun with climbs and swooping descents at arms length right from town.

The Pyrenees are another incredible place to ride. The roads are less “engineered” and tend to follow the terrain with lots of twists and turns with crazy cambers and decreasing radius. You’ve got to keep your wits about you, especially with the distracting views and never knowing if a cow, horse or sheep is going to wander across your path.

Then you have local food and wine that continually surprises and invigorates. I’ll never forget our dinner in Bagnères-de-Bigorre after a particularly great ride in open mountainous terrain where wild horses were grazing, the waiter mentioned that we were having “cheval” which tasted amazing. Some of our group didn’t speak French so we gave them a hint with some “whinneying” and reminders of what we had seen during the day. A few shocked faces looked up when they realized what they were eating!

Life can deal us some pretty amazing experiences but to get there, I believe that we’ve got to push our limits both mentally and physically in order to find those places where we can experience the fullness of life.

Let me know what you think.

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About alexstieda

Cycling fanatic, Olympian and IT geek. Claim to fame: 1st North American to wear yellow jersey in the Tour de France. http://www.stiedacycling.com/
This entry was posted in International Cycling. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why I Ride

  1. louisa says:

    after a wild weather ski day…you’ve got me dying to jump on my bike…now we just need warmer weather without rain! Bring on Italy!!!
    Ciao

  2. Igor says:

    If during your rides in the Dolomites, after a lot of apple strudel you want to try some original Savoiardi ‘biscotti’ in a good Tiramisu come and visit us at Ustaria Posta. We are also cyclists and we love to have cyclists among our guests!

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