I make my living talking about cycle racing. I have many happy memories of racing a bicycle. Here’s the thing though. I think I may not be a cyclist anymore.
Let’s take a look at my cycling history.
I had a Triang Trike. Bloody loved that thing and then graduated to a Moulton AM-2 ( I think). In my childhood cycling equalled freedom. However as I reached my teens I discovered guitar, and (a bit later) women and cycling took a back seat.
Skip forward a few years and mountains, which had always fascinated me, had become an overwhelming obsession. The bike reappeared as a way to keep fit after my climbing and guitar playing chum Andy Heatlie beat my bus home from his house riding a bike. I thought that was very cool. The crossover between mountaineering fitness and bike fitness was natural.
Later, whilst still a mountaineer, I started working at the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op, and surrounded by a cadre of like minded folk I got drawn into racing. My mountain climbing upper body condemned me to the ranks of time triallists but it was fun. The peer pressure drove us all on to new heights of fitness. Some of the best years of my life.
Then I had a crash that changed everything. I destroyed my left elbow. Couldn’t ride or rock/ice climb, got depressed, drank too much, got fat….yadda, yadda…it’s a common story.
So, here we are. A few decades later and we have a rejuvenated John. Dodgy hip (another story) replaced, able to ride a bike again, with dreams of racing in his head. Except, other than the pure delight of being able to ride a bike and enjoy the scenery again, I’m not really that into it. An hour into a three hour ride last week I was bored. I prefer walking the dog!
Lightbulb moment! My obsession with actually riding a bike has never been about cycling. Other than simple childhood joy it was first about staying fit for mountaineering. Then, when I was in the racing group at Edinburgh Bicycle, it was about competition and peer pressure. I’ve never ridden the bike for it’s own sake as an adult.
So, I remain obsessed with bike racing and bike tech, but as an observer rather than a participant. It’s frankly difficult and slightly baffling to come to terms with.
I’ve no idea why I wrote this other than to empty my head and I’ve no idea where my relationship with our wonderful machine will go, but I know I still enjoy pedalling. I just have to rediscover why.