When did you get in to cycling? As a kid? After having kids? After you retired? If you didn't start young, this is what you'll have missed out on
You have a remote chance of becoming a professional
The closer you are to 30, the further away your chances of riding the Tour de France become. In reality, if you don’t start riding in your childhood you probably won’t get good enough to choose cycling as a career.
But as you look at those old guys in the Tour – Alejandro Valverde is 35, and that’s old – you still have that glimmer of faint hope that you might emulate your heroes one day.
It won’t happen, because you like pizza and pints of lager too much, but even Geraint Thomas must have had the student diet at one point, right? Probably not.
If you fall off, you often just bounce
Ever seen a toddler running along and just falling flat on its face? After the immediate waterworks they often just burst out laughing. The older you get, the more it hurts to fall on your face.
Granted, at any age you can come away with bumps and bruises if you fall off your bike, but when you’re young you can walk away from a pile up without any broken bones and even cycle home.
The older you get the longer it takes to bounce back up.
You have loads of time to ride
As someone in his late 20s with a very demanding job I often look back to the halcyon days of being at college and university, when waking up at 12, playing eight hours of Playstation and then slumping back to bed was classed as a successful day.
If you’re into cycling from a young age you’ve got infinite time to get thousands of miles in each year because you’ve got literally nothing else to do.
At the time you feel like the busiest person in the world, but when you get older you’ll realise quite what a doss full-time education really is.
You aren’t in agony the day after a ride
I’m getting to the age now where aches and pains creep in after a good ride, but when I was younger I could run, ride and play sports every day of the week without the slightest bit of muscle soreness.
You don’t have to plan your week of exertion based around your weekend ride, because you can cope with anything that life throws at you.
You can’t afford new kit and gadgets
This one may seem a bit sacrilege, because the very meaning of being a cyclist is to buy more kit than you need and fill your house with cycling paraphernalia. But as a poor student, or in your first job out of school, you simply cant afford more kit than what you currently own.
As a result you learn to make do with what you’ve got and if you want to save up for a new jersey, some new shoes, or even a new bike you’re genuinely appreciative of it because you’ve worked hard to get it.
It gets you out of the house
When you’re a teenager often the last thing you want to do is get out of bed, but at least if you’re a cyclist you can get out of the house and avoid doing all the chores your parents have saved up for you.
“Sorry mum, I can’t dig the garden, I’m off out for a nine-hour bike ride.”
You’ll get great anecdotes
Remember when bikes had gear shifters on the down tube? No, me neither. But as you grow up as a cyclist you’ll see a lot of changes. The earlier you start cycling, the more stories you’ve got to tell the youngsters who come through the ranks when you’re older.