Friday Group Ride #464

Friday Group Ride #464

I stood under our tent at the corner of the field and watched him handcrank his way up the muddy turf to his own tent. The bike was a fat-wheeled four wheeler, and the “pedaling” looked desperately hard. “Jesus wept,” I thought, “I don’t know if I could that.”

This comes up with my cycling friends sometimes. What would we be, how would we think of ourselves, if we couldn’t ride the way we’re used to riding? What would we do?

I encounter riders asking these same questions in my work life too, riders who’ve aged out of group rides, or can’t ride drop bar bikes anymore due to neck and back problems. E-bikes have been a solution for some. Some have sought out recumbents or simply switched from drop bars to straight.

I admire them all so much. It’s as though all the pretense is stripped away, even bits of ego and dogma you didn’t realize were there, and all that’s left is the desire to ride.

This week’s Group Ride asks, how far would you go to ride a bike? What adaptations would you be willing to make? What if you couldn’t ride at all? If you think that cycling is part of your identity, what is your identity when you remove the cycling?

Image: Break the Boundary


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  1. Neil Winkelmann

    I always imagine that at some point I’ll just stop entirely. I don’t imagine it will be gradual. But to be honest, I don’t know if that’s how it will turn out, or when. My identity is largely as a cyclist, both internally and apparently in the way others see me. So it will be a big change. How it works, I can’t imagine.

  2. Jay

    I chose cycling years ago because I loved riding, but I also saw it as an activity that I would be able to do even in my senior years. I am now into my mid sixties and I am still able to ride. I am not that fast any more, but I always was a middle of the pack rider anyway. I imagine that I will find a way to ride in some form if fate changes my ability to do so in a traditional sense. I am not averse to the idea of an e-bike as I become older still. Just not now.

  3. scott g

    At the start of a recent club ride that was a 91 year old, riding a recumbent trike,
    he was having a good time. Looks like a plan to me.

  4. Andrew

    I’ve thought about this. I’d ride a hand crank bike if I was paralyzed. Fk yeah. I’d go electric to be able to still ride gravel. No recumbents, however.

  5. Stephen Barner

    Classic, British racing trikes, a.k.a. barrows, have always fascinated me. I wouldn’t mind trying one, should balance become an issue.

  6. Lyford

    I don’t know. I just enjoyed a 10,000′ climbing day, have bikes, bike stuff and a shelf of bike books, but it’s still something I do, not who I am. I’ve gone through long periods without much riding and could do so again.

    I suspect I’d still want some way to be mobile and independent outdoors. Recumbents are fun. E-bikes are fun. Heck, motorcycles are fun. There are lots of options better than sitting on the couch.

    If I could never turn a pedal again it’d be an adjustment, but it’d be ok.

  7. Parker English

    Tho cycling is by far my favorite form of fitness, it’s not a necessary form. Fitness itself, however, is a necessary part of my preferred sense of self. There are other parts, but am not sure how I’d avoid feeling humbled without a sense of fitness.

  8. TomInAlbany

    In my younger days, I was solidly in the camp of, “I ride, therefore, I am.”
    As age has begun to show me what limitations may be in my future, I’ve moved over to the camp of “I’ll ride, as long as I can.”

    And to facilitate the second camp, I think I’ll ride whatever I have to!

  9. Don Cafferty

    Re “The bike was a fat-wheeled four wheeler … “, the photo shows 3-wheels and they are not “fat”. There are 3-wheel and 4-wheel recumbent trikes that are “full” fat with the same fat tires (4.0 and 4.8) that are seen on fat bikes. The tires in the photo may be wide width but to me don’t look full fat. Re “What adaptations would you be willing to make?”, when I assessed what it would take for me to continue cycling from age 70 to age 80 (for me, all bets are off after age 80) I decided on a Azub Ti-Fly X (3-wheel) trike. I am glad that I did that because (and I don’t want to get personally specific), deterioration has occurred quicker than anticipated. I am completely comfortable on my trike. In fact, if I could re-do my life, I would choose a 2-wheel recumbent eg. a Lightning P 38 rather than the 2 Cervelos that I owned. The tires on my trike are Schwalbe Smart Sam 26 x 2.4. They are not skinny. The UCI has done no favors to anyone by regulating for diamond frame bikes and outlawing recumbents (around 1930). Diamond frame bikes can not achieve the aerodynamics that recumbents can. Speed records (human powered vehicle competitions) confirm that. There is another universe of cycling outside of the diamond frame bike. It is an eye opener when one steps over to the other universe. I am glad that I did.

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