Ride for Life – Darren Lee

I come from a generation where, as a child, having a bicycle was absolutely necessary to function as a kid in my hometown. From my Raleigh Chopper to my Grifter, through to my first BMX bike my Amaco Mongoose to my beloved Raleigh Burner. I then went onto building bespoke freestyle framed Skyway wheeled halfpipe taming BMX’s to impress the girls at the local BMX track, before finding my love of all things road when my dad bought me my first road bike… a 1985 Bianchi Rekord – Bianchi green with white seat and white leather pedal straps – which was, in essence, my Lamborghini Countach on the streets of my hometown. God, I thought I was the dogs b******s… and the horror when my sister jumped on it without asking and fell off it damaging the pristine white leather seat (she was never forgiven). All memories that even at 51 sit firmly at the front of my mind. 

It’s when I look back over the many years of cycling that I realise that as I have travelled through different phases of my life, so has the way I have ridden my bike and the purpose for which cycling served. At the age of 25, cycling was all about competition- the pursuit of perfection and detailed study of every facet of my function on the bike. Later, in my 30’s as I raced slightly less and I opened my fitness centres in Spain, I added an element of social life into my cycling life – riding for the enjoying of simply spending time with like-minded friends and enjoying the beautiful countryside and mountain routes rather than previously when I had hardly noticed them as they flash past my eyes at breakneck speeds while only focussing on the wheel in front. This continued into my 40’s, as well as adding the training and commercial gym element into my life, which in turn led me to develop CicloZone and bringing me to where I am today.  Now my road cycling is simply getting out on the roads in to spring and summer to alleviate the mental stresses and strains of being CEO of Ciclozone and of course when time permits, to get back to the continent to relive routes and rides, with dear friends, which before were ridden at a much faster speeds.

I think what I’m trying to say in this blog, is although I have changed, the bike I’ve ridden has changed and the reason why I am riding has certainly changed in the last 50 years… the one thing that never changes, is cycling itself.

The art of sitting on a simple geometrically designed frame, which sits on two wheels with a chain driven drivetrain connecting the rear wheel to my legs. This amazing design mechanism adapts the extremely inefficient human energy output into one of the most efficient forms of energy conversion on the planet. The brilliant concept allows any human being to use cycling for any purpose they require… commuting, competition, hobby or of course fitness. All human beings, from 3 years old to 103 years old have cycled and used bikes to enhance their lives in some way.

Other than swimming, I cannot think of any other human sporting physical activity that really can be a lifetime passion. Although the way we are cycling and what we are cycling may be different, I think it is about time we recognised that cycling is unique and so are all the people doing it. So, whether you are a mountain biker hurtling down the side of a mountain, a road cyclist cruising the country lanes or commuting to work, or even a fitness enthusiast enjoying the latest CicloZone session on their static bike in a gym or at home, you must be proud to be a part of an enormous global family, an amazing family full of amazing people… and you, above everything else, must never be scared to call yourself a cyclist and never ever forget that being a cyclist means your journey is never ever at an end so you can always enjoy the ride.