This week we have a special treat for you. Let us introduce to you, the amazingly creative world of our friend and creative raconteur Greg Ryan.
We asked Greg if he would like to do a little Q&A for us on his relationship with cycling and creativity. Next day the following article dropped in our Inbox. Damn the Mo Fo’s prolific. What resonated with this article and what we have really came to understand through the RIDE TO THE SUN and TOUR OF THE HIGHLANDS is the WHY and not the HOW to, in cycling.
So without further-a-do, please enjoy…. Why I Cycle by Greg Ryan
Why I Cycle by Greg Ryan
Cycling and creativity. I could pitch this whole piece of writing on the fact that both cycling and taking on a creative endeavour are the same, they are both journeys, both with uphill struggles and both with points where you feel like you have to give up. You don’t though, you grit your teeth and fight on, then when you reach your goal there is a feeling of great elation, an unparalleled high on looking back at what you achieved and what you went through to get to your end goal. I am not going to insult you by going that direction, I will leave that for an inspirational Instagram post further down the line.
My name is Greg and I am a creative person.
There, thats the introductions done now, why do I cycle? The short answer is money. I wish that I could say that I used to watch le tour as a boy and that these magnificent athletes and the machines they piloted through the rolling fields and lofty mountains inspired me to one day embark on my own two wheeled battle, pitting myself against nature and testing my soul against the elements but I can’t. In truth I started cycling in 2009 because I was skint. I was married and we were on the start of a very rocky financial road which led to our eventual divorce. Due to this one of our two cars had to be sold to save money which left me no option other than the cycle to work scheme. I got myself a Kona hybrid and a high-viz jacket and proudly became one of the most hated people in the world; a bicycle commuter. The first time I cycled to work was a nightshift in July. I can remember getting about a mile from home and feeling that I was going to be sick. The experience really didn’t endear cycling to me and, if it hadn’t been my only option for getting to work then I would have probably put the Kona back in the garage and never used it again. The more I cycled though the more I grew to love it. It was a break between my unhappy home life and work. What’s not to love about that, a half an hour period where its just you, the noise of the wind and thats it. Well, apart from white vans cutting you up to get through traffic islands but that reality shatters the illusion.
I make it sound like I only took up cycling in 2009. In truth I have always had a bike and cycled everywhere apart from maybe a break of a few years from 18 to 25 years old. I used to mountain bike when I was a teenager but I never was really good at it. My first and true love has always been music, it has influenced everything I have done and how I deal with the world since I was a very small child. The fear of falling off a mountain bike and hurting my hand so I couldn’t play guitar was too big of a risk for me to push myself into it seriously. Today, I have moved on from my mountain bike and my hybrid to a road bike, a red Cube Peloton for those of you who are interested, but, even though the thought of injury rendering me unable to play guitar is no longer a worry, there is still something that holds me back from devoting myself fully to cycling. When I bought my first road bike I incubated grand dreams of going off into the wilderness and getting lost for a few hours on my bike, the only problem is that now instead of worrying about injury it’s time that has became precious to me. I love the feeling of freedom that I get from being on my bike but, I have three kids and a partner who is a teacher and works long hours, I struggle giving up the time where I could be writing, taking photographs or making music and it’s unfair to dump housework and the kids on Ashley so I can be out cycling then home buried in a piece of writing or music. So creativity wins and cycling is still very much relegated to a mode of transport just now.
The best thoughts and ideas come to me during these periods where all I am concentrating on is turning the pedals and moaning about the headwind
This isn’t to say that the time on my bike isn’t needed, it is very much an important activity that goes hand in hand with my creative side, especially now I have taken up writing. It is a time when I am away from the stress of home and of work, of the kids asking questions, bills, washing the car, doing the dishes and most importantly away from the constant distraction of my mobile phone. The best thoughts and ideas come to me during these periods where all I am concentrating on is turning the pedals and moaning about the headwind. So many things that have been holding me back have vanished in a pedal stroke and left me ready to get home and get my idea down and push on with whatever it is I am working on.
I am never going to be a published writer or a respected musician, the same way I am never going to complete the tour de France. I’m not too bothered though, I use cycling and I use writing and I use photography and I use music all for the same thing. Its all a form of escapism, of tuning out from the world and all its noise and distractions of money, relationships and everything else that we carry around with us as baggage. It allows me to get out of my head and take the world at my pace. If I want to push myself to climb a hill as fast as I can I will, though if I want to go slow, hold myself high on the bars, look out and take in the view I will do that too. The same way I can kill a character in a story or have a burst of white noise in a song. These are all things that I can control in a world where most of the things out there I hold no sway over.
Next week we will have a Q&A with Greg on his creative life, showcasing his music and photography.