Despite my love for Mad Max I am no road warrior. It has been hard for me to assimilate all the miles and tactics, heart rates and calories, disposable razors and the general pumping and flexing that takes place. I am biased, having worked in a shop on and off for over a decade. There is nothing like witnessing an interminable retching of hubris to turn you off of something. Before the arms are up about painting with a wide brush I would just remind everyone that Type A and road cycling are not tautological, it is only that the link between the two is seemingly made of Adamantium. Taking a step back I get it – I am not here to illustrate yet another example of the ego’s love for generalization. Outside of the bike world, other less-than-desirable individuals exist, take note of your local gym or while waiting in line for coffee, the globe is covered with the sprinkling of God’s bitter tears. Anywhere people compete, one could argue that this is all we do, someone is liable to view the successful coddling of the ego as a step towards species procreation, an atavistic nod towards the high five hunters on the walls Chauvet.
Up until a week ago, I hadn’t been on a road ride in fifteen years. Looking dead into the eyes of the big three O I can honestly say it has been half a lifetime. It’s not that I don’t spend time riding on the road, I go here and there, work, bars, food, etc. I ride my bike almost everywhere; it is so easy here. The city of Portland, Oregon is truly a city of Pedal-philes. Needless to say since re-locating to Portland five years ago I have taken up bicycle commuting in earnest, the move to the nation’s number one cycling city led me back to the joy of being on a bicycle, first back to mountain biking, then to cyclocross, and now road. I have to say I had a blast. We are a far cry away from the time where my downhill bike is sold for yet another skinny tired street predator but now is see there is room in the stable for both entities.
It wasn’t that I found myself out on the tarmac lost in the orgiastic delirium of up-hilling, wondering why it had taken me so long to return to the blacktop. I think my return to road cycling came at just the right time. Like anything else having an enjoyable experience out on the road has as much to do with the people with whom you share the ride with than anything thing else and this certainly holds true for solo rides. I don’t know who else to blame if you piss yourself off. Find some people that are pissed at the same thing you are, go find some steep hills and beat yourself up on them – at the very least you won’t have the same energy to keep being such an ass. For the rest of us I wouldn’t let the prize of the amateur ranks spoil your fun, it’s quite a thing to go slaughter yourself on a hill and to be able look back in amazement that you were actually able to will your all and everywhere aching body to keep pedaling. In road cycling the hills do end and the boulders disappear.