Why riding a bike isn’t just good for your health but for your career


“SANDAG report shows 42 percent increase in bicycle ridership in first five months of stay-at-home order,” San Diego Union-Tribune, September 10.

No question, those two-wheelers are everywhere. Me, personally, I ride a road bike, once per week, approximately 28 miles. I ride alone because I like to talk to myself out loud. I use it as a talking therapy session. I know who the other guy is sitting in the chair opposite me, so I banter back and forth in an effort to approach tough issues and refine my own personal rational man behavior. (After all, I purport to teach this stuff).

Riding a bike provides a quasi-therapy session to work out issues. It is a simple repetitive motion that does not require massive mental effort. (You can’t do this while playing golf, way too much frustration.) Look, I’m not crazy (OK, jury still out on that one), but this is not a case of Sybil. Freud argues that pedaling a bike “automatically without attention” is one method to allow the unconscious to bubble up to the surface.

I wanted to understand if this model of riding and talking was effective in a larger context. So, since I like data, I contacted my long-time psychoanalyst, who sent me multiple studies on the subject. For example, “The effect of cycling on cognitive function and well-being in older adults,” authored by Louise-Ann Leyland in the journal PLOS One. As you might expect, the data showed that bicycle riding resulted in “increased psychological well-being.” And it matters whether you are moving or stationary. Apparently, the Peloton is not as effective as when the wind whips through your helmet. “The Eriksen flanker task measure” showed large improvements in “executive function,” while psychological mood improvement was demonstrated in the “Stroop and Letter Updating task.” Don’t ask.

I read another scientific report with 21 contributors who reached the conclusion that “bicycling is associated with several positive health effects.” I wonder what that study cost. But, hey real research scientists are confirming that riding a bike is good for you.

And now to the core of the puzzle. Recently, I had a disagreement with some folks, who wanted to reintroduce me to Litigation Louie. So, on a particular ride, I spent almost an hour in a mental courtroom. I interviewed the jury, I cross-examined the plaintiffs, I argued all sides of the case. And I was able to absolutely prove that I was in the right, with an unassailable position. And then I reached the correct decision, which was to settle and move on. I figure that first hour on the bike saved me $100,000.

What about other kinds of activity? No surprise again. It turns out that being in motion (swimming or walking for example), creates a mental and physical environment that is conducive to better health, period paragraph. But the bike still rules. “Results suggest that the use of a bicycle as a transport mode could help improve social cohesion with reduced feelings of loneliness.” It is hard to find many positives to the virus, but maybe riding a bike outdoors is one of them. So, when you see an old man on a bike talking to himself, just wave.

In these Zoom times, venture capitalists are still taking meetings, but the duration has been compressed. Some are booking in 15-minute increments, but most no more than 30 minutes. So, as they say, every minute counts. A client of mine recently got the infamous good news, bad news assessment. They said his deck was spectacular, great technology etc., but the “story” that he told and the way he told it would not get him out of second grade. Learning how to tell a great story is a unique skill. It is a combination of crisp and focused, delivered with a touch of a song and dance Broadway performance. You are the actor in your own play.

You think it’s about your technology, your vision and the market, but the truth is you’re selling soap. And you need to grab me around the throat and convince me that I am not leaving that room alive until I shower with that bar of soap.

Story telling can be learned. Try practicing it out loud while riding your bike.

Rule No. 678: “To keep your balance you must keep moving” — Albert Einstein

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