Gym+Coffee Ambassador and Irish track, road and CX cyclist Lara Gillespie talks all things cycling in honour of World Bicycle Day on June 3rd.
Get ready to feel inspired to jump in the saddle and peddle towards some truly incredible benefits for the mind and body.
For me, cycling is primarily about being as physically fit and strong as possible.
Day-to-day, I love to encourage others to get on the bike as it is such a great way to enjoy exercise. It is a fantastic way to increase both aerobic and anaerobic systems and also strength work on hills.
After a big block of training, I love feeling strong and healthy in my body.
The bike really benefits my mind, too.
I noticed this so much when I was ill and couldn't ride the bike. I love getting outside every day and exploring nature and pushing my body and mind. It really puts me in a positive mindset. After training, I feel so confident and high on endorphins.
The time I spend on the bike is also a time for me to be present in the moment. When I’m riding easy, I take in every little thing and appreciate the wildlife, trees, literally everything! It’s a form of meditation. When I’m doing hard efforts, I really have to go within and dig deep, and when I finish those hard days I feel really mentally strong.
A good day in the saddle leaves me ready for a big night of sleep.
As soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m out. I think spending a couple of hours outside every day and doing any bit of exercise boosts the quality of my sleep.
Sleep is something I really prioritise for recovery and my general well-being.
“The time I spend on the bike is also a time for me to be present in the moment.”
As I mentioned already, being out on the bike is a time when I am entirely present and as we all know, it can be difficult to be present these days. My focus is only on the here-and-now and I find my mind doesn’t stray so easily.
I have so much drive to succeed and be the best I can be as a cyclist and I’m extremely focused on my goals. However, when I’m on the bike, I’m just focused on enjoying it. That’s really what’s most important to me.
Cycling has helped me focus on other areas of life too, such as school and college work, as well as my time management.
I’m definitely a better person after training! Often before I get out for a ride, I may be wondering why I feel moody or down.
It’s only after I train that I remember: The bike uplifts me. I feel so much better after getting out and pushing myself.
Spending time in nature, pushing myself and getting those good endorphins lifts my mood in a way that nothing else does.
It might be surprising to some, but cycling doesn’t have to be a solo experience!
Through cycling, I have met some amazing people, kind people. It’s such a great way to meet new, like-minded people and be social.
Finding my cycling tribe has given me a sense of support and community that I’ve never experienced before.
Follow more of Lara’s cycling journey here, where she regularly updates her followers on her training, competitions and more.
In the meantime, if anyone needs us, we’ll be on our bikes!