Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Adventure By Bicycle Simplified

Gino Bartali circa 1936- Showing not much has changed in a long time.
Bicycling has a problem with being an activity that on one hand wants to include more people and then tells you on the other hand how you are not doing it right. Bi-polar references aside, I often have to shake my head at how even the mainstream press in cycling does thing like this. Divisive, counterproductive articles that not only are not helpful, they also are not even close to being right.

Here is a newsflash for y'all: nothing is new in cycling. Yep. Nothing. The whole deal concerning one of my favorite cycling activities- gravel grinding- isn't new. Roadies started it, and it has been going on here for decades. I haven't advocated that this is a new, awesome genre' of cycling, but I have asked that we look backward to previous cycling eras for some ideas that work well for riding on gravel. So that we can have equipment much better suited to doing this activity than we've been able to get. And now we are getting that, and it is an awesome thing.

The other part of the whole marketing who-ha that is happening now is the debate about what to call this thing, this "not road racing", not "mountain biking", not "hybrid biking" thing that we are doing with these bicycles. Some are saying it isn't what people are calling it, while some try one name or another, and others throw their hands in the air in exasperation. Sheesh! How do we expect to invite new folks along for the ride when we cannot even agree amongst ourselves what it is we are doing or how we are doing it? Heaven forbid you bicycle and not know The Rules! Yeah........ what a freakin' mess cycling is! 

Just, you know.......having fun!
So you might ask if I am going to do something, offer an alternative, or am I just another whiner? Fair enough. Actually, I feel I have already done some things about it, to be honest. The Geezer Ride concept has successfully been done four times in four different locations. The rides attracted several cyclists, many first timers to longer rides, and was hailed at every ride as a great time. I saw another concept for a ride where folks are going to ride in the country, get back to a central place to barbecue, and play vinyl records while wearing old concert t-shirts.

So just what is it that makes these rides so attractive? Is it the specific bicycles that we are using? Are we following rules? Does it cost a bunch of money and have aid stations? What is it? I'll tell ya what it is that is going on here.......

These things called "adventure" and "fun" are central to these rides. You know......those things that made you want to ride as a kid? Freedom, a calming feeling, or a thrilling one. Whatever, but they all were not tied to what a gravel grinder is, or if an adventure bike is really a mountain bike. Bah! Phooey! 

The fact of the matter is that all two wheeled, human powered, bicycles are adventure machines. There is no need to argue. There is no need to tell me or you that we are doing it wrong, or that this bike is that kind of bike, not what you think it is. We don't need "The Rules".  No, we do not need all of that and more. We just need to be pedaling, having fun, and doing that in a way that doesn't get us killed just for having fun.

I just happen to think it isn't really all that complicated. Just go ride. Have an adventure and have fun. 



Cory said...

We should just enjoy the ride and not worry about all the fine details. Too much arguing, moaning, and complaining as it is. 650b vs 29er vs 26. Gravel vs road vs mountain. Rigid vs suspension. Single speed vs gears. Carbon vs aluminum vs steel. You get the point. Nothing but bickering between the factions. Why can't we all just ride and respect others ways? I ride gravel honestly because I am too nervous about riding on the road with all the car/bike collisions each year. There is much less traffic on gravel. But I have only one local riding friend to ride with (without driving 2 hours) and he will not ride on gravel to save his life. So I normally ride alone and it gets pretty dull after a while so maybe we all need this constant drama to keep things interesting :). Another good article Ted.

Guitar Ted said...

@Cory Edd: This part of your comment is really hitting the nail on the head, in my opinion. here it is==> ".....maybe we all need this constant drama to keep things interesting"

I think that is what drives all the chit-chat and articles that get posted by the cycling media like this. They cause controversy which garners attention. In some cases, I think it is purely the selfish need for being important and "right", but in the cases where we see stuff like this in media, I am quite certain that it is about getting numbers up on website stats so that the advertisers can be placated by the media and justify the dollars spent.

In the end, it doesn't help cycling actually grow, be attractive to "outsiders", or encourage those who just want to ride and have fun. In fact, it "tunes out" the folks the industry should be "tuning in".

Thanks for your comment.

Phillip Cowan said...

I wouldn't get too worked up about it. It's just what we humans do. Gun-nuts will argue for hours about 9mm vs 45acp. Gearheads will come to blows over small block chevy vs ford. Ski bums will stop speaking because one does cross country and the other is a downhiller. It's just a leftover impulse from our chimp ancestors to divide ourselves into ever smaller familial groups. As for me I think I'm gonna go riding now.

MG said...

I like to have fun on bikes...