Over the summer, I started to lose the drive I had for getting up and going out on the bike for long rides. Even shorter rides started to become a chore. Certainly the inner chimp had something to do with it. But so did the rigmarole that a lot of us go through before getting out on the bike. You know the sort of thing: checking the bike, pumping up tyres, finding the right cycling clothes (which I always swear I will put away in the same place but never do), fill-up water bottles , find shoes, find sun-glasses, etc, etc. And finally, get out on the road.
Once out I’ll be constantly checking my average speed, average cadence, the length of time that I have been riding, the distance covered, even the road gradient!
But what about the joy of cycling?
I know a lot of cyclists go through this sort of thing and just need to rediscover their mojo. But thinking about it, what had happened to that great feeling I had when, as a kid I would just grab my bike and head off somewhere? Not really knowing where I am going. No special clothes. No Garmin. Just riding for the fun and freedom it gave me. Escaping from my neighbourhood and exploring pastures new.
I remembered listening to a Resonance FM Bike Show podcast a couple of years ago which had an interview with Grant Petersen who thinks most cyclists need to ‘unrace themselves’. That is, stop trying to do what professional racing cyclists do. He suggests that instead we should all ride more comfortable bikes in more comfortable clothes and be more relaxed about the whole experience. It’s about simplifying cycling to the essentials – a sort of ‘minimum viable product’.
So over the summer I have been giving it a go. Just grabbing my hybrid when the mood takes me and heading off somewhere. Making my Sunday morning ride less of a ritual. And trying to stop worrying about the data from the rotating screen displays on my Garmin.
And do you know what? It’s put the fun back into cycling.