Pure unbridled joy, a sense of freedom, and that buzz you get after a healthy dose of feel-good endorphins thanks to pumping away on the pedals – for those who love cycling, these feelings will be wonderfully familiar.
For Lang, cycling has been a constant source of joy in his life, including through some dark times.
"Around eight years ago I separated from my wife and I went through a very difficult chapter,” he recalls.
"I remember thinking to myself: ‘I'm probably not going to be around next Christmas’. But then I thought: ‘I'll see through to late January because I'm going to do this big (bicycle) ride’."
"At the time, the Fatboys were training for the Adelaide to Canberra ride. It’s seven days a week, averaging 180k a day, so it’s a big challenge," says Lang.
"I decided to go for it and said to myself: ‘I’ll give it another couple of months, then I'll check and see how I feel’."
Thanks to all the training, physically, Lang felt good. After a while he started to feel better mentally, too.
"Once I’d trained and completed the ride, I felt miles better. Cycling gave me something to live for, no doubt about it."
Bikes, banter and bonhomie
As well as experiencing first-hand how exercise and setting your sights on a future goal can do wonders for both your physical and mental health, Lang credits friendship, banter, and post-ride chats over coffee as other key reasons as to why he found solace in the saddle.
"I don't think there's anything quite like riding up in the hills on a perfect spring day, particularly when you’re out with guys you’ve ridden with for ages," says Lang.
"They're a great bunch, my cycling buddies. We all bounce off each other and enjoy a bit of a laugh. That's probably the main highlight from my perspective."
"There's also strong peace of mind when you go out on your bike with people you ride with regularly, especially when they're excellent cyclists. It's an easier ride. You're not on edge, waiting for something to happen, you're just out there riding and enjoying the day – the friendly banter, the feel-good endorphins, feeling totally alive – there’s nothing quite like it."
On top of enjoying the comradery of a tight-knit cycling group and a satisfying sense of achievement after finishing a challenging ride, Lang knows the importance of having open, honest conversations with people you can trust.
“When we stop for a coffee break it’s a great opportunity to sit and really chat and blow off steam. We talk about all kinds of different things. If anyone's having a hard time, you talk about it – or you listen. It's not a formal thing, but things inevitably come up. When I was having a hard time, I had a couple of guys check in with me who knew I wasn't in a good headspace.”
These days, Lang continues to enjoy being part of a cycling group and the sense of community and support it gives him.
When asked what advice he’d offer anyone thinking of getting into cycling he simply replies:
"Do it, stick at it, and just enjoy the ride."
Wise words indeed.
If you need assistance visit Beyond Blue’s support services. Our mental health professionals are available 24/7 on: 1300 22 4636. Click here for a web chat (3pm-12am AEST). Alternatively, contact us via email (responses within 24 hours).
For immediate support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 and in an emergency, always call triple zero (000).
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