About a year ago, by friend Pete visited from the UK, and cycled to the top of our local mountain (Mt. Tamalpais, it's pretty big) on this crazy, exotic, Italian carbon fiber road bike that weighs about an ounce that he brought with him. Since I'd seen him last a few years ago, he had become super fit, and told me that he was "addicted" to cycling, and that he routinely rode 20 or 30 miles. He then implied that I was nuts for living in the best cycling area in the world but not taking advantage of it.
After he left, I took his comments to heart, and dug the mountain bike out of the garage and started working my way around a nearby trail. Eventually I was riding a fairly tough 10 mile circuit that wormed it's way up part of a mountain, and back down the other side. It was certainly helping me feel a bit fitter.
Then, for Christmas last year, Mrs D bought me a road bike. Something a bit more exotic and carbon fiberous than the tank of a mountain bike I'd been riding. After some embarrassing crashes (thanks to the toe clips), bruises, and near-death experiences as I toppled over sideways in the middle of traffic because I was physically attached to the bike, I started to see what Pete had been talking about.
Now, I'm riding between 70 and 100 miles a week (when I can) and riding fairly rigorous 20 or 30 mile routes that take me through some of the most beautiful parts of the Bay Area. I'm faster, and fitter than I've probably been in 15 years...and now I'm really beginning to appreciate what Pete was talking about when he said it was an "addiction."
Spending all day in front of a computer, working on 10 things at once is certainly stressful. But hurtling down a hill at 40 miles an hour on a road bike requires such singular focus and clarity that it eliminates all the stresses and complications of my usual day-to-day routine. Now, if I don't ride for a couple of days, I really feel it. There's a physical yearning to get out there and ride. Not just for the fitness aspect of it, but for the clarity and feeling of freedom that it provides, too.