In this day and age, it’s easy to be lulled in by the numbers. Heart rate stats, distance and elevation you’ve ridden… even gear ratio, parts compatibility and bike fit measurements. We rely on the internet for research, to tell us what we need to know.
But there was a time, not that long ago, where none of that mattered. You got a bike for Christmas, or you picked an outgrown one from an older sibling or cousin and you just got on it and rode. Alone, with your friends, in the sun, in the rain… it didn’t matter.
In that spirit, here are a few things that Wikipedia can’t tell you about riding bikes.
- The sense of absolute elation when cresting the top of a hard climb. Doesn’t matter if you ride on the road, gravel, dirt or anywhere in between. Slogging it up a hill is slogging it up a hill. But when you get there, exhausted, breathing so heavily you think you might actually throw up a kidney, and you see the top around the next corner… that sense of “I freaking did it!” is unrivalled.
- How proud you will become of your tan lines. Carefully cultivated over a number of months and years, tan lines are the mark of the outdoors. They represent the hours you spent on your bike and become an effective way to identify other cyclists while they are in casual summer clothing.
- That your scars all come with a story. These are cultivated in a different way, but somehow become the vessel for carrying entire memories. That was the time I tried to follow so-and-so over a rock but didn’t realise you had to lift your back wheel. This one was the time I slid out on that wet corner on the road bike.
- The amount of extra wardrobe space you’ll need. Honestly, just prepare to need at least 2.5 times the wardrobe space you used to have. Kit, socks, helmets, shoes, gloves… all of these wonderful pieces of cycling gear will need a home. Remember when you had a spare room for guests? Remember when your garage was for your car?? Ha!
- That finishing an event you’ve trained hard for is the purest form of pride. You can use all of the power data, cadence stats and TSS training scores you like, but nothing compares to the feeling of finishing an event you worked your ass off to even enter. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first triathlon, a time trial or a 24 hour mountain bike race. You set a goal. You nailed it.
- How quickly you will become an expert in researching cycling routes and making it so that every family trip involves bikes. Before I got into riding, I’m certain I used to plan holidays based on, I don’t know, some factors like being able to relax on the beach or proximity to the pub. These days it’s all – “hey honey, Rotorua looks like a great place to visit in March”… Ok, and also proximity to the pub.
- How terrifying it is to be a newbie as an adult: It can be such an anxious time. You have no idea what it’s going to be like, you might not know anyone you can ask about it! Inevitably, the negative voice turns up which says “you’re shit, you can’t do this!” and then it’s all too easy to talk yourself out of it. Our Advice on that last one: Own it!
People respond really well to saying “Hey, can you please show/tell me how to do this? I’m new to this...”