Stories

A Life-Changing Gift

January 3, 2020

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A Life-Changing Gift

“On the bike, I could go farther, explore more, and feel greater freedom.”

Luis Pedraza

It was Christmas.

I was 13-years old, anxiously awaiting the moment when my parents would let me see the enormous gift hiding on the balcony.

After I finally approached and unpacked, I was thrilled to discover that it was a mountain bike.

How I Discovered Cycling

I come from a country where cycling, although popular, is not the most in-demand sport. There, football is king. Even I played it quite often growing up.

As I got older, though, I increasingly preferred cycling instead of football. I liked the sensation of pedaling, the excitement of discovering new places, and because my town is located at the bottom of a valley, the feeling of breathing fresh air in the nearby hills.

Cycling gave me a different sensation compared to being on a soccer field—even more than running, which I already liked so much.

On the bike, I could go farther, explore more, and feel greater freedom.

Living in a valley also meant that whenever I wanted to ride, I had to climb about 400 meters (1,300 feet) of an uphill slope. Looking back, it wasn’t that much, but step-by-step, I developed legs that were ideal for climbing mountainous terrain.

In fact, after years of doing this, my legs felt more comfortable climbing hills than speeding through the flat or downhill sections.

As the years passed, I felt increasingly confident, gained new skills, and purchased new bikes. I also created longer routes up to 130km and even climbed my first category one mountain pass in Spain.

How Cycling Makes Me Feel

When climbing a mountainside, it could take me an hour to reach the pass. And no matter how many times I’ve done it, I always experience an incomparable feeling of overcoming; satisfaction.

Heading back downhill, though, I might be able to cover the same distance in only 12 minutes — the wind blowing in my face at much higher speeds.

The effort involved in climbing; the risk of speeding downhill: sensations that only cyclists can experience.

How Cycling Changed My Body, Mentality, & Life

The feelings I experienced on my bike changed my life. They made me value the effort—the training and work—it takes to improve and achieve what I want.

Although I’m close to my thirties, thanks to cycling (and football, too!), I also feel as good as when I was a kid.

A little balder and taller, for sure, but I have the same vitality, the same level of energy, as the day I unpacked my first mountain bike. And I’m able to transform this positive energy into a good mood during the day.

Cycling’s Importance In My Life

Cycling is an essential way for me to release tension.

If I’ve had a bad day or have a lot of work ahead of me, I’ve found it’s best to hop on my bike and ride.

The moment I begin pedaling, everything stops. I briefly escape the situation and relax while also improving my vitality.

Furthermore, the peace of mind I achieve when riding my bike isn’t something I experience with any other sport.  It’s just me and my bike against the trail, flowing to the rhythm of my breath. Success will soon be mine.

A Few Parting Words

Looking back, I would have like to join an amateur cycling team growing up, but my studies prevented it.

Still, I’m appreciative of the gift of cycling I received on December 24th, 16 years ago—one that would completely change my life.

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Luis Pedraza is a Spanish native who currently resides in Poland for his work as an engineer. When he was younger, Luis participated in MTB races near his hometown. He still enjoys the Sierra de Gredos and El Pielago when he visits.
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