25 August 2011

Why long distance cycling is similar to doing a PhD?

Lucy's come up with a good story to write about...Why doing a long distance ride is similar to doing a PhD?

I think being a scientist and a cyclist is being a double-weirdo. But let me explain the similarities:

- When you start a PhD you are very enthusiastic about it. Similar stuff happens when you start a (long distance) ride.

- Some days you do get a rainy start (or completely soaked!) while riding to the lab in which you are doing your PhD, same as when cycling long distance (blame it to the island's benign weather!)

- Doing a PhD has its ups and downs, exactly the same as cycling for prolonged periods of time, unless you intend to cycle in Suffolk/Norfolk.

- Everyone who has done/is doing a PhD knows about its unexpected turns (some of them nasty, some of them sweet), sort of similar as riding in the UK's narrow country lanes!

- Crazy people doing PhDs need support from their peers when they encounter difficulties, and so do long distance cyclists when they feel bored/tired/about to bonk.

- Most people "enjoy" speedy lunches (based on sandwiches) while doing a PhD, because your gels/PCR/immunochemistry slices need your immediate attention. You do eat quickly on the bike because you need to get going!!!

- It gets difficult and hard-going at the end of a PhD. I am experiencing it first hand. It does feel the same on a long distance ride. And in both cases, it always takes longer than expected to finish it!!!

- You dedicate more than 10 hours most days to a (scientific) PhD. Luckily, we do spend the same amount of time (sometimes even more!) if doing long distance events.

- PhD supervisors always want you to work harder/run more experiments. Some long distance cyclists want their mates/partners (this applies in Lucy's case) to go faster and complain less about it.

- Doing a PhD is not going to give you money nor recognition. But one must feel proud once you get it (hopefully!). It does feel great to complete 200 km on two wheel, also.

And I have found one dissimilarity:

- It takes 3 or more years to complete a PhD. I wish I had that time to complete a loooong journey on a bike! One day, maybe?

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