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Personal Best

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Riding a bike is no laughing matter.

Well, at least it isn’t for some people.

That’s fine for pros like Eritrea’s Daniel Teklehaimanot who is pictured above competing in the Tour de France, but there is a case for sometimes setting our sights lower and being less competitive.

That thought came to me while I was riding my bike over here in England. I try to greet other riders on my travels.

I shout hello to the faces of the ones who come towards me and to the backs of the heads of those who fly by from behind.

I ride a cheap bike and I ride for fun so I’m not too bothered when someone overtakes, even if it’s an old woman.

What does get to me, though, is how often my greetings are ignored.

Would it be different if I owned an expensive bike and wore lycra?

I don’t think so.

No, I think a big part of the problem is that many riders take their pastime so seriously that they don’t want to waste any breath on a ‘hello’ because it might cost them a personal best.

Believe it or not, this column isn’t really about riding bikes.

I’m just using the way we see that activity as an example of how we live our lives.

What I am really talking about is priorities.

When we concentrate on competing and going for PBs all the time we focus on getting things over as quickly as possible because the result is what matters.

It’s focusing on the destination instead of the journey, and that can often be a mistake.

Yes, competition can be good because it can force us to tap into resources we didn’t know were there.

That’s why organised sports can be so rewarding.

The thing is, I don’t think it is wise to get wrapped up in being the best we can possibly be all the time at everything we do.

That can be hard work and it can make us quite boring.

If we took the time to think about it, though, most of us probably wouldn’t choose to be the best at everything or to win every game we ever played.

That might sound a bit silly, but I really think it is true. Do you want to be better than your mate, your children, your brother or sister or your friends at absolutely everything?

How do you think that would make them feel?

If we care about people we don’t want to make them feel bad or inferior; and if we want to be liked and have fun with our friends we don’t want to do things that piss them off.

Looking at life that way can ease some of the pressure of modern living and make it easier to enjoy the accomplishments of others.

Don’t get me wrong; competition has its place and there is no doubt it is both good and rewarding to try to be the best we can be at some things, but we don’t need to excel all the time.

I suppose another way of putting that would be; life is like riding a bicycle; it’s more enjoyable when you get the balance right… so maybe this piece was about bikes after all.