I discovered cycling purely by accident. When I was in junior high, I was suspended from the school bus for 10 days. My parents made it clear that I had to find my own way to school -- they weren't the sort of chowderheads who'd reward me with a car ride for doing the wrong thing. I quickly discovered that I could bike the 7 mile distance in less than 30 minutes, while the bus took more than an hour each way (it didn't take the shortest route like I did).
When the suspension was lifted, I kept riding. At first, I rode only because it was faster than the bus, but I discovered it's a really good way to get around. I ride for many reasons now -- I like the feel of air in my lungs, the smell of flowers and leaves, the sound of wind, and the mild burn in my legs. After getting my blood pumping and muscles working, I feel like a million bucks.
I enjoy the changes in the seasons, so I stay out even when it gets dark an rainy in the winter (in reality, thinking about riding in cold wind and rain is much harder than actually doing it). Besides, even "bad" weather has plenty of advantages -- I don't have to worry about being sprayed with "reclaimed water", inhaling bugs, or have them buzz about in my helmet as I ride past farms and water treatment ponds.
I've found that cycling helps me appreciate the small things in life and see people at their best. The return of daylight in spring seems absolutely miraculous after you've ridden in total darkness and freezing temperatures for the past few months. And I'm always touched by the number of motorists who offer to help when I'm repairing my bike along the side of the highway in the dark or slogging back in a winter storm. Some people have actually insisted on waiting until they see me finish my repairs and get on the road before continuing with their own journeys.
I don't ride competitively, but I like a challenge and often participate in major rides. I especially enjoy riding in mountains -- the combination of strenuous climbs, thrilling descents, and breathtaking scenery just can't be beat.
Like many cycling enthusiasts, I have many bikes. The strange looking bike below is my hot rod. It's called a highracer, and as its name implies, it's designed for speed. It's wicked fast, crazy light,and turns heads whereever I go. It's great on long straightaways, rolling hills, and against the wind. This particular bike was made in Holland, so you won't see many like it.
Most people think of bicycles as toys, but they're actually very useful. For distances of less than 10 miles, they're not noticeably slower than cars, and in town they are often faster because cars move slowly and parking is a hassle. Different bikes are optimized for different purposes -- bikes that handle abuse are slow, but high performance bikes tend to be harder to ride, less comfortable, and unsuitable for carrying gear or riding in bad weather.
The unusual bike on the left is my velomobile -- basically the tadpole trike with an enclosure. That really gets a lot of attention wherever I go. It protects me from the elements which can be really nice when it's freezing cold, windy, and wet. It also allows me to carry a lot of stuff. Everyone thinks velomobiles are cool, but for some reason no one buys them so they're hard to find.