Friday Group Ride #461

Friday Group Ride #461

It’s a question of what grounds you. We all need that in our lives, right, a reset? I think one of the things that drew Padraig and me together was that we are both introverts. We recharge ourselves during time alone, often on the bike. That means we might shy away from a big group ride or at least manage our bike time so that we’re sure to get some measure of solo, meditative time in the saddle. Others, the extroverts, will prioritize the social side of cycling.

For an introvert, some group rides might not be grounding. For an extrovert, solo efforts might prove less than satisfying.

Many of us have families and do the dance of bike vs. family, where we long to be out on the road or trail, but feel compelled to be back home, mowing lawns, changing diapers, or coaching sports. Or like me, you’re further along in your family life. Your kids are more independent, and the bike is less of a necessary escape. It still performs it’s magic, but you’re less desperate to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

The bike can ground us when we’re in a bad relationship, or turn into a distraction when we’re in a good one.

At times I have felt like I was chasing cycling like a drug. It wasn’t keeping me grounded, it was just giving me escape. Other times, I fell into patterns where I was more interested in accruing cycling gear than riding miles. When my fitness was at its lowest ebbs, the bike shamed me and was no sort of home.

But there was something magical in those moments when I was alone or maybe with one other person, just winding my way up a long climb, my breathing steady, my heart ticking over, even nearing its max, and the world floated in front of me, and the riding just brought me that much closer to myself, stripped of everything unnecessary for pedaling and moving forward. So there’s that, too.

This week’s Group Ride asks if the bike is working for you right now, or are you chasing it? Is it where you go to feel comfortable? Or where you go to get uncomfortable? Do you get enough? Or are you over-doing it?

Image: One time I literally got grounded.

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  1. Fausto

    The bike never lets me down. The ride, either alone or the club, never lets me down. My aging body and lack of will power let me down all the time.

  2. Michael

    I guess I can’t think of when cycling did NOT “work” for me. Sure, when my daughter was small, it was silly to try to do any big rides since my fitness could not reach that level. Instead, we ran – we won the stroller category and often my age group in many 10k runs (actually, the stroller category was always unofficial – I have heard there are races with those, but never seen one. We were typically the only stroller pair running the trails). I still rode then, just without any pressure to improve fitness. It was pure joy. Now, I have more time, and I ride more, and it is always a joy, even if I am beating myself up physically. Commute, tour, road, dirt – all good. So I guess it always is great.

  3. Neil Winkelmann

    My bike is a lot of things to me. It scratches a lot of itches. It is a means of transport, accidental exercise, a social experience, an adventure, a means of escape. Competition also makes an appearance, although not in a major way (other than against myself). It is also a bit of a tech-geek outlet, both in terms of the bikes, but also the physiology as it relates to athletic performance.

    It is also meditation time. Although I’m now in a long-term successful relationship, the bike has helped me through some darker times in the past.

  4. Jim

    A little every day, thanks to a 1hr bike commute. I see the world at it’s most quiet and reflective, in the morning. This gives me enough fitness to do just about any longer rides I want to do
    I had a really stressful day a few weeks ago, and knew I could not be at home. Too negative. So I grabbed the bike and went out for an unplanned 100 mile gravel ride up to the local pass. I got home after dark. Lots of reflecting.

  5. TomInAlbany

    I still pine for the bike when I’m in the car with my family and see someone riding along on a nice country road or up a big hill. The bike offers me my private time. Solace. Recovery. Escape. Reward. Accomplishment. Failure.

    I don’t get enough. As a result, I over-do it when I am on the bike. I bite off chunks I’m not really fit enough for…

    In the end, though, the bike has never let me down. I learn. Almost every time I learn. Sometimes it’s about me. Sometimes it’s about my riding areas. And sometimes, it IS about the bike.

  6. Doug Johnson

    Cancer sucks… How do you handle a diagnosis? How do you handle a loss?

    In 2003 I lost my brother to cancer. So I rode. 100+ mile weeks from March to December. After that year, I was grounded, I was free of the grief.
    In 2008 I had my own diagnosis. After treatment I rode, I raced. I came back stronger than before. 3 trips across Iowa with Team Livestrong in RAGBRAI taught me we don’t face cancer alone.
    Tomorrow we face the start of my wife’s cancer journey, and I’ll ride. It’ll be time to forget the stress and anxiety of walking the survivorship path with my best friend. And just focus on the road.

    We did a 70 mile tandem ride with friends yesterday, it was a distraction, it was a way to find that the bike doesn’t care what’s going on, it doesn’t care what kind of day you are having. All it wants is time with you, on the road.

    Indeed the bike is special. It will indeed bring comfort.

  7. Mike

    How to form these thoughts? The bike gives me so much of what this one soul needs – alone time, social time, exercise, exertion, excitement, exploration, challenge, technology, and above all else, knowledge. It gives me knowledge about myself and about my world.
    Recently, I have been thinking that I am too bike-centric; I’m too one-dimensional. However, every time I think this thought I come back around to the fact that I just really love the bike. It is an essential part of who I am. I cannot fully explain why it is the bike vs. so many other possible endeavors, but it is definitely the bike.

  8. Dave Harman

    After a nearly 150 day streak on the bike culminating in my biggest ride of the year, which I promptly borked up by getting borderline heat stroke during day 2, I’m hiding from my bike(s) currently. And feeling guilty and fat. We’re going to have to make up soon. I’m sure it will be a glorious reunion, but someone (me) is going to have to take the first step (pedal.)

  9. Parker English

    For me, the reset part of cycling is associated with Robot’s concept of fitness-as-hygiene — so long as my fitness is reasonably satisfying, life’s glass seems at least half full, even if that involves some resetting. Following a bikepacking tour, was diagnosed with Lyme disease three weeks ago — bulls-eye rash so well-defined the doc showed it to half-a-dozen staff. Several days later, doxycycline began working its magic on a body nonetheless relatively weak. So what’s been counting as reasonably satisfying fitness has been reset. Which continues because weather here’s involved >100F realfeels for a week, with more to come. Would be less blase if facing an imminent project. Which is a long way of saying that my view of the bike as comfortable or not, while important, is pretty flexible.

    1. Robot

      Parker, I’m honest-to-god touched you read and remembered “fitness-as-hygiene.” I hope you feel all the way well, soon. This heat is killing me, too. I thought when I left Mobile, AL, where I grew up, I was putting hot/humid behind me, but I wasn’t.

      It will be cooler on Mars, right?

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