This is why I ride
It’s the holiday season, the end of 2018, and it’s been a pretty remarkable year in our cycling lives. For starters, we launched Cyprusroadie, our own little corner of the web to share our passion for the sport. The site was some time in the making, partly because we’re both busy working dads, but also because we spent a long time knocking about ideas for how it would look before we settled on what you see here. Saying that, it’s not the finished product quite yet and it’ll almost certainly change again many times over.
In the few short months since September, the highlight has got to be the circumference of the island we completed in October. It was hard, very hard, but also a real eye-opener about what cycling means to me, and what I hope it will mean later in my life. My infatuation with numbers, be it weight, aero drag, tyre pressure - you name it - was surprisingly eclipsed by the realisation that a bicycle is simply a mechanical device designed to propel you forward.
Sounds too obvious?
Well It is. But a lot of us tend to forget it. We get swamped by Strava PRs, resting HR, FTP, VO2Max and stare at our tiny cycling computer screens when we should be looking at the mountains ahead, or the valleys below, or the steady breathing of our riding partner. During that ‘Circuit’ ride, Simon pedalled up alongside at some point and told me: “You know what, I’m riding a steel bike that must weigh 20 kilos, with 35C tyres, I don’t have a power meter or even a route to look at, and you know what? It feels bloody fantastic. I’m liberated!”
To be honest I was a bit doubtful at the time because I was anxious about this and that, and didn’t fully appreciate what he had told me. But in the week after we had finished the ride I started thinking about what he’d said, over and over. Then during the Tour of Limassol the heavens opened and we got really, really wet. My power meter went belly-up because of water ingress, and I had to send it back for a warranty claim. So no power data for almost a month and a half.
Turns out Simon was right. Do we really ride for a new PR or KOM? Or is the light over the houses as we ride in the break of dawn more important? Does our FTP really matter that much? Or the raw exhilaration of bombing down a mountain pass?
I sure know where I stand now. There is a place for all the metrics - after all structured training with power is the best way to get stronger, and indoor sessions (Zwift in particular) are fun and engaging. But road cycling carries too much baggage from road racing and the pro peloton, which, to be honest, is a very wrong way of approaching this ‘activity’, for want of a better word.
So for 2019 try to get more quality time on the bike. Ride new roads, take your bike on a holiday, join other cyclists, have a slice a cake, above all have a laugh. Yes of course train hard if you so wish. Track your performance, know your body, watch what you eat, but don’t let this all become an obsession. Cycling is simply too beautiful to be reduced to a bunch of numbers.
Happy holidays everyone, and happy New Year!