The Restorative Joy of Cycling

Feel like crap? Get on a bike

Clive Thompson
Published in
7 min readMar 5, 2022


“København” by d26b73

Today I stumbled upon this gentleman’s post on Tik Tok — where he describes how cycling has made him happier.

It’s a lovely video, so you should check out the original …

… but for the record, this is what he says:

Hey, I just want to say that if you’re an adult, and you’re kind of like, “Hey, you know, I’m doing everything right in my life, but I just don’t — I don’t feel good, like something’s missing” …

I just want to propose that the thing that’s missing is riding a bike.

I got back into riding a bike like a year ago — and it is, like, the single greatest boon to my mental health, probably in my entire life.

There are not a lot of problems in my life that I can think my way out of. But I’ve yet to find one that I can’t bike my way out of.

So it’s just — yeah, maybe get a bike. Go for a spin.

I could not more strongly agree.

I love this guy’s video, because it describes something I’ve often felt but had never quite said out loud to myself:

Cycling is amazing for my state of mind.

As I blogged about last year, COVID-19 turned me into a regular urban cyclist. In the first months of the pandemic — when vaccines weren’t available, and we weren’t totally sure how transmissible the coronavirus was — I didn’t want to get on the subway here in NYC, nor take rideshares. So I started cycling all over the place. Any destination, any errand, I’d hop on my bike.

After a few months of that, I got positively addicted. Officially, I told myself that cycling was great because it was i) a handy way to navigate NYC, ii) awfully fast, iii) super low-polluting, and — best of all — iv) amazing exercise for an otherwise sedentary writer who spends his days planted in front of his laptop like bracket fungi. If you asked me why I cycled, I gave you practical reasons.

But the truth is, what kept me cycling was something much more intangible. It lifted



Clive Thompson
Writer for

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.