I sometimes wonder why I ride. In fact on a recent road ride it started to bother me. I’d had a fairly tumultuous winter but rode as much as I could or wanted too. I’d given up on mountain biking in December. The wet winter never affected my road rides as whenever I went out, usually Sunday and early, it wasn’t raining. The roads might have been bike wrecking-wet but it did not rain. Now, finally free from the shop and lease I can just ride. But why?
As a youngster I ran. I ran for pleasure. I ran to train, I ran in hockey and I ran in squash. I ran in snow, in rain and in the sun, on beaches and in the mountains. Now, I may be proud of my fitness, my super heart, my VO2, my muscles, my body weight, in fact almost every physical and mental aspect apart from one crucial component: my bloody knees. They cannot take the pounding of the flat or descents. Looking back it was the pleasure from being fit, and trying to be fitter that drove me on. The bizarre thing is that it never occurred to me that I could race. It wasn’t until my daughter had become a class runner and racer that I thought that I could have raced. By then though, I was already at the hobbling stage.
So my number one reason for riding is to keep fit. Riding does have some added benefits: transport, the distances, the speed, the adrenalin, the social, the fear, the technical, the views – although I’ve usually got my head down. And then there’s the racing and challenges. Each time that I climb onto a bike I get that feeling that this is what I am meant to do.
Last week, I plugged a route into my Garmin and headed out. It was pretty boring and you may wonder why do it? However, I rode with a new vigour and excitement as it was a course, a challenge. I had put the Hit the Downs 80km 2020 into my Garmin and all of a sudden I felt transformed. Wide open gravel roads became exciting. I had a reason to ride. I was on a mission. I wanted to go quick. I couldn’t believe the feeling that I had. It was exciting. I’ll write up the route and some training tips later on.
My rides are usually with a purpose. I’ve always ridden as if I was training. I used to race but mainly trained just to be fit. I’ve spent my life training. I’m not racing now but have goals: The South Downs Way, Col de la Colombiѐre, Tour du Mont Blanc, Hit the Downs and then there’s Strava. I still get cups although have to concede that Crowns are beyond an OAP.
Despite all of these words, what did I do this week? I rode just for the pleasure of riding. Sheer joy! Here’s the ride.