Pedaling and riding. Sound synonymous. But to me the two have some very different connotations.
Pedaling is using the bike to get from one place or another. Generally speaking, pedaling is focused on the destination. You are trying to get somewhere. In that regard the fact that it is done on a bicycle is pretty arbitrary – you could have accomplished the same goal using public transportation, a pair of sneakers, or (Gasp!) a car.
When riding, however, the destination is often completely arbitrary. Rather, it is the act of being on the bike that is the primary goal and motivation. Riding is what you are doing when you get the endorphins pumping. It is what you are doing when you are trying to get up that hill faster than ever before, or just trying to hang on the wheel of that faster group of cyclists. It is crossing yet another county line… to cross yet one more state line.
It is important to note, however, that two are not mutually exclusive. Some of the greatest moments I’ve had in the saddle where when my morning commute – pedaling to work – magically and unexpectedly turned into riding. Sometimes it is just a bit of a twinge of pain in the quads that spurs you on instead of slowing you down. It is a change in state of mind – and it is a welcome one. Those days find me holding my head up a bit higher, standing a bit straighter, and feeling a bit more lively.
Watch for those moments. Embrace and hold on to them when you find them. But always remember that the difference is in your head. You can find yourself pedaling on the most expensive unobtanium racing bike, or riding on the 20-year-old steel whip. You can find yourself riding in denim just as easy as pedaling in lycra.
Nor is one somehow better or superior. Not every ride needs to be a goal-reaching, PR setting effort. In todays hectic, fast-paced multi-tasking world, often the quiet calm that can come from pedaling is equally as beneficial as the exquisite thrill that can come from riding.
Most of us that had bikes when we were kids will look back and realize, we were almost always riding. Sure, sometimes we tried to go faster than the other kids. But mostly we just enjoyed how much fun the bike was.
Live to ride. Pedal to live.