Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I like to ride my bike. I'm one of those "just ride" people who has no particular destination and gets there at no particular speed. I'm faster than some and slower than others. I like a challenge but I don't race. My jersey isn't festooned with logos and slogans. I don't do intervals or hill repeats or sprints or criteriums. I don't care about the latest gear or go-fast supplement. I don't count calories, measure watts, monitor my heart rate, or track my performance. I am not "on the scene".
I read an article in the June edition of Bicycling magazine about a fellow who lives in Colorado and eschews "the scene". I thought my approach was unique, but here's a guy who actually makes a living at it. Granted, he runs a bike shop and has the best equipment supplied to him by the biggest manufacturers, but his philosophy is simple: just ride. He also derides competition and considers it a persons duty to abandon everything else in life to ride. I wouldn't take it that far (though sometimes I wish I could quit my job and ride all day), but at least we share the core philosophy. Of course, the tone of the article seemed to frown on his attitude because it makes a mockery of the lifestyle the magazine tries to sell. After all, sport cycling is big business. A person can spend all kinds of money on cycling - same as any hobby. But its the lifestyle - the image - and all that goes with it that I think creates a disconnect. That is, the amateur athlete equipped like a pro, eating like a pro, training like a pro.
I have a wife, three kids, and a full-time job. I'm way over 40. Its obvious that no one is going to pay me to ride my bike, unlike the guy in Colorado. So what do I need with Chris Carmichael or Selene Yeager? And what am I doing reading Bicycling Magazine? Well, its fun. In a way, Bicycling magazine is pr0n for cyclists. I mean, what rider wouldn't like to get his hands on a Pinarello Prince or a new carbon Willier? And all those glossy photos. Plus Chris and Selene offer good riding tips. The point is, cycling all on its own is fun. I don't like to wear spandex because it makes me fell silly. But if I can force myself to get kitted up, I'm happy within two minutes of getting on my bike.
I like riding with groups too. I don't make the group rides that often because of my schedule, but when I do, I like to make the most of it. Occasionally the rides become a go for some imaginary yellow jersey - it depends on who shows up - but that's the nature of the group ride. And sometimes I can keep up. But even if I get dropped I always have a good time.
Over the years I've seen a lot of bicycles hit the road around where I live. I know very few riders though. What I do know is a few good routes around central St. Louis. Google maps is a brilliant thing, and I've begun using it to sketch my rides. I will post them here, along with other random saddle droppings. Maybe some of you can use the maps for reference. Or maybe I'll see you out there.