Bicycle Love

This morning I recieved an email from FATMARC asking me and a cast of cyclists of varying ability about "Why they ride/race bikes?" then Marc got a little more specific and and asked us to go into greater detail of our "Bicycle Love." He is going to post his long list of responses on his BLOG, Marc says he stole the topic idea from VELO NEWS.

The question of why I ride or race is not all that simple.
or perhaps the answer is simple...

"I ride because it is a part of me... I would not be me if I did not ride."

okay... it may be more than that
perhaps I can get back to the Why I ride? question after I answer the Why I race? question

Why does GWADZILLA race bicycles?

There are a few basic reasons....
As I have grown to have more and more adult style responsibilities I have found that it is more justifiable for me to tell my wife and family that I am abandoning them for a Sunday or maybe a whole weekend so that I can race my bike. Going out for a ride with the fellas just does not get the permission slip signed.


As the DC Metropolitian Area gets to be more and more populated and the idea of outdoor recreation gets to be more and more popular the trails then get to be more and more crowded. Crowded with more cyclists, more hikers, more runners, more dog walkers which makes for more dogs running wild.... just more. When I first started riding I knew of a few places to ride.... seldom did I ever see any other cyclist other than our group. But now... Go to Shaffer Farms, Patapsco, or Gambril State Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the trails can be like a trip around Interstate 495! (the DC Beltway) Knobby to Knobby traffic.... I hate getting stuck behind a catapillar or riders... and it is not cool to pass where there is no trail. With more trail users it becomes less reponsible to "bomb" downhill or to even zip around a bind corner at high speed.... the likelihood of encountering another trail user is just too high to really test one's own personal limits. When I ride (or even when I hike or walk my dogs) I try to imagine that I am on the trail coming in the opposite direction.

and of course....
having a racing goal in the not so distant future motivates me to ride when I would not normally feel compelled to ride. The motivation to show up fast and in shape to compete against some fast guys is greater motivation that for me to be faster than some friends or less than regular riding riding buddies.
I have raced out of shape and have raced in shape.... and racing or riding is much more fun when in shape. That is not to say that i am always in peak conditioning... I often try to use spirit and desire to compensate for lack of preparation.

I head off to the races...
The races have a course marked off. Everyone is going the same direction, hopefully. The fear of an old blue haired lady with her old blue haired dog marching up the trail in front of you is decreased... and it is okay to test your own personal limits.

On top of all that.... I love racing!
I ride harder and I ride faster on race day.
The competition does something to me. It makes my actions seem more accountable. My heart pumps and pounds before I even step over the top tube. The night before I start getting butterflies in my stomach.... often I will not commit to doing a race until Friday night so that the butterflies of anticipation do not hit me as early as Wednesday. I hate the anxiety.... but I love the racing experience... I love that extra push that competition offers me. The feeling of being dialed in on race day can be very Zen.

back to WHY I RIDE?

Most everyone loves to ride a bike....
If you can not remember the experience for yourself as a child take a look at the children in your neighborhood. There is something pure about riding a bike. It is like "running plus." Cycling is the closest that man or child can come to flying... it can be exhilerating! (okay, skiing or snowboarding can offer that same sensation) The bond between a person and their bike is irreplaceable. The connection of a child and their bike can often become like that Greek Mythology Character the Centaur, half man and half horse, only the horse is made of metal not flesh and bones.

The bike offers a feeling when the person is riding it and the bicycle is also the ticket of FREEDOM! The ability to explore and travel about. To extend the boundries of a child's world.... as a child I went for long bike rides with my fishing rod down the C&O Canal. Riding further and further, getting to more remote spots and further off places. We learned early that the journey was the destination. We were not training, we were just riding.

But then something happens....

Some kids put down the bike and pick up a skateboard or get interested in a different sport or activity, some kids replace the bike with the car, and others just think that the bike is a child's toy. I know that the bike was less part of my life during high school than it was during my time after college. In high school the bike was a tool for the geek using both straps to his backpack.... even though it never happened.... even I wanted to be cool.


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