Cycling Stories

Life of a Cyclist

June 5, 2020

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Life of a Cyclist

Cycling has been an enduring part of my life since I was a kid, as I took to riding at an early age with other children in my neighborhood.

Back then, we’d even go to the extent of stealing from our parents to rent one, and then ride for a few hours, or throughout a day—it depended on the amount of money we could raise since bicycles were rented per hour. There wasn’t anything we wouldn’t do just for the thrills.  

Life as a cyclist isn’t always rosy, whether you’re an amateur or a professional. I’ve encountered several challenges along the way, good, bad, ugly, and crazy. 

When learning one sunny day, I made a silly decision to ride recklessly along the street while piloting my rented Rayleigh bicycle. A car came close. I was confused about what decision I should make, so I turned my handlebars at an extreme angle and stepped on the coaster brake with both of my legs still on the pedals, which caused me to lose my balance and crash into the culvert. After picking myself up, I was left with bruises on my knees, feet, arms, and face, since I, unfortunately, wasn’t wearing a helmet. 

Then, during a race in South Africa, I was speeding along in third place when a bushbuck came out of nowhere and, with tremendous power, brushed me with its twisted horns. Again, I crashed, this time into the grassland on the side of the road. Thankfully, I was wearing headgear at the time. But if not, it would have been a serious disaster and could have led to ugly consequences for my evolving career as a professional in the sport. 

However, although my all-terrain bike suffered little damage from the impact, I couldn’t continue with the race. It was a bitter pill to swallow, knowing full well that even as a strong championship contender, I lost due to a completely ridiculous circumstance. 

One especially fond memory was when I rode in the Obudu Bike Race, a second-tier championship in Nigeria, the first of its kind to take place in the most populous black nation in the world.  

It was a dream come true. I started the race in pole position and was able to maintain my pace until the end. Truthfully, I merely won because of my endurance and doggedness, since the terrain was steep and dangerous for many of the aspiring cyclists who took part, myself included. I crossed the finish line first as the second and third-place contestants were just a few meters behind. Afterward, it was all pomp and pleasantry. 

Compared to other sports like Formula 1, Grand Prix, and the Dakar rally, cycling receives minimal attention from sponsors, mostly because of their inability to appreciate its significance in today’s society. I honestly think there’s a great deal of room for improvement in regards to advertisement and partnership, which the profession will hopefully enjoy in the near future. 

One more thing: If you aspire to achieve a career in professional cycling, remember that it takes a great deal of practice and trial-and-error before you begin winning prizes. There’s a saying:  

Nothing on earth is impossible with intense preparation and diligence, though it may take some time before yielding positive results. Nonetheless, in a matter of time, the sky will be the starting point for persevering minds.  

Good luck to anyone who pursues their cycling dream. 

Paul Onuh is an emerging writer, who resides in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria. He's creative in works of fiction, non-fiction and essays, and has a love for facts and pragmatic thinking.

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