DO CYCLISTS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?
Originally posted 6th December 2010 by Nick Hussey
Cyclists are a particular bunch. Particularly the particular bunch of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfull-time’ cyclists, in particular. By full-time I mean, obsessive, not pro. That accounts for a great many of us, including me! Obsessive in that we may not ride everyday, but we THINK about cycling all the time, and obsess about bikes, kit choice, training, etc.
Cyclists are a particular bunch. Particularly the particular bunch of ‘full-time’ cyclists, in particular. By full-time I mean, obsessive, not pro. That accounts for a great many of us, including me! Obsessive in that we may not ride everyday, but we THINK about cycling all the time, and obsess about bikes, kit choice, training, etc. These definitions are difficult, as I could say racing cyclists, but that leaves out off-road riders. And it can include sportive riders, or not, dependi….Oh hell, you get the idea, let’s just carry on eh?
We obsess because we love cycling and all the trimmings that are involved, but also because cycling is so BLOODY COMPLICATED. If you’re a runner, you get some well fitted trainers and a top that won’t rip your nipples off, you don’t eat just before, and you’re off. Sweet.
But cyclists…Well, just take a look at a cycling forum. Any forum will do. It is mayhem. Contradictory advice, experts who are proved absolutely right, or wrong. Tyre choices that are a joke, or perfect. Interval regimes that will make you a god, or absolutely not. Frame materials that will cause you to weep with joy as you glide transcendentally, or crash horrifically as punishment for your insane choice. It’s all so immensely complicated it must seem terrifying to the new rider.
But luckily we have electronic things to help us. The latest, and best (not a lot of argument on the forums here, unless you get into cost…Oh lordy!) are watt meters. These measure your power output, and are the best measure of how good you are. It also tells you how good your kit is. WOOT! This can be illuminating, and also potentialy deeply destablising. The level of obsession that can be entered into here is marriage-crushingly geeky. But it’s oh so so so fecking interesting! Now can see if those carbon wheels you got are worth it, or if dropping in the saddle 3mm gives you X amount, or if….ARGGHHHHHH.
Now I did sports science & physiology at university, and specialised in biomechanics. So you’d have thought I’d be all over a watt meter. But I’ve been riding so long my theory is that cycling is so complicated, so difficult to pin down and so individual that I’d just be entering a world of pain. I’d want to know everything and analyse each and every choice. And I’m just not good enough for it to matter and it’ll just spoil my enjoyment of all the other myriad choices in cycling, like which route. I just love riding bikes. I have the freedom of being mediocre. Pros and top riders need watt meters. (I’m not being sarcastic, they really are brilliant.)
Cycling is as easy and as complicated as you want it to be. And that’s the beauty of it. You can jump on a shopper and pootle about in the sunshine, picking up cheeses at delis and carrying puppies in baskets. You can chuck yourself off bits of rock and woop and squeal and rip through forests. And you can rip through yourself, mouth gasping, teeth barred, a little machine telling you how good you are, or not.
People too often say one way is better than another. That can become the currency of cliques. Just enjoy your way of cycling and level of obsession. As long as we cycle.