How cycling kept my mental health alive during the pandemic.
Cycling not only improves your physical fitness it also boosts your mental health and gives you different perspectives on life.
Most people here on medium don’t know me, so here’s a quick introduction: My name is Chris Perkles, I’m 27, live in Austria, Salzburg and as profession I have choosen photography and filmmaking, which is not the perfect job during a pandemic. With all the restricitions we have since March 2020 our branch was hit hard and the steady income wasn’t that steady anymore. But I don’t wanna go to much further here, I rather wanna focus on something beautiful that I discovered in this time: Cycling.
My friend Max Riese is an ultra-distance athlete and loves to cycle, I know him for many years now and he always told me how amazing this sport is, but I kinda couldn’t get it. Then a lot of my other friends started to cycle more, first mountainbikes and the gravel or road cycling. The group pressure grew to big. I also needed one, but I had no idea what to buy. So I asked Max what he would recommend with a good price / performance ratio, he showed me some models and in February 2020 I ordered my first “real” bike (I owned a few before, but just for commuting in the city), a Canyon Grail AL 7.0 1x11 gravel bike. A month later it arrived by mail and I was stoked. In the beginning of march, I rode my first tour with a friend to a nearby lake in the cold, but it was already awesome. Also for the first tour I borrowed Max’s old cycling clothes and combined it with some hiking clothes I owned, because I hadn’t bought cycling clothes yet. My girlfriend still refers to the “cycling outfit for the poor” cause I looked so stupid.
So in March the first lockdown started in Austria and I had very little work to do, but the weather was beautiful so I started to ride my bike as often as I could, because it was the only thing someone was allowed to do. I started to realize, cycling is a great way to explore the area. As a photographer I already knew a lot of beautiful places around here, but with the bike you ride different roads, get to different places and so on, it was like a location scouting on the go. To see this beautiful places with your own eyes, made me feel very grateful & humble.
In a time where you’re supposed to not meet anyone, I still tried to keep in touch with my friends, because friends and family are one of the most important things in my life and maintaining those relationships is crucial to me. So we often went for a ride together and kept some distance, so that everyone was save. During these rides we could laugh togehter without masks, enjoy each others company, discuss things and just have a good time around. We even shot a movie about two friends from Austria and Italy who met at the border to spent some time together (check out rEUnion).
Cycling also was a way to get out of this depressing news cycle. Everyday you read about the count of dead people, infected people and all that bs. This psychological warfare by the media was/is still intense, especially when you work in the social media world. By getting into the nature, you put your phone away and just forget what’s going on for a couple of hours. It’s a time where you can recharge, where you can refocus on what’s really important. I always felt better after a ride (except one longer ride where I bonked, that was awful).
As a conclusion I can say, cycling really helped me to get through this a lot better. It helped me to do longer activities with friends and spent quality time with them, it also let’s you forget what’s going on in this world and puts you to places where you maybe have never been before. If you’re not already riding a bike, it’s time to get yourself one and get on the saddle. Believe the hype, it’s worth it.
For more cycling content, check out my Instagram with way more pics.