Evolution Of My Wheels
Four years ago I gave away my Jeep in favor of a bicycle. That transition wasn’t difficult. I live in a small town, and I’m in good physical condition – bicycle makes sense. For three of those four years, despite said small town, I commuted on my bike over an hour each day to and from work. I embraced that commute as part of my workout scheme since I would have invested as much time in a cardiovascular exercise each day.
When I began my bicycle commute I rode a beach cruiser. The workout, riding to and from work on a fixed gear bike, was both challenging and rewarding. However, it was not time efficient. After several months I would transition onto a mountain bike to shorten the duration of my commute. I eventually transitioned to a road bike to further shorten my commute at a time when minutes mattered.
As the technology of my bicycle evolved and the length of the commute lessened, the “workout” became easier and less fulfilling. I would make up for that lost intensity by intermingling sprints and stair-stepper sessions into my lunch break each day. On the weekends, as I had time available, I would take my road bike longer distances, often carrying a weighted pack to force an increased cardio output.
Paying More And Getting Less
My road bike is actually a touring bike. I paid less than $1,000 for it new. It has no carbon fiber, no titanium, and weighs over 20 pounds – much more than most road bikes. Still, when I have ridden with my serious cycling and triathlete friends, I have had no problem keeping up with them, and have lead the way more than a time or two. Most of my cycling friends have bikes much lighter than mine – bikes that weigh in the 15-18 pound range.
Most of my cycling friends have at least a few thousand dollars invested in their bikes, often much more. One friend has over $10,000 invested in her bike. She competes at a high level. Most cycling enthusiasts don’t compete at a high level, or compete at all. Many people get into cycling for the health benefits; to lose weight, increase their fitness level, or both.
There is a direct correlation between the cost of a bicycle, its components, and a lack of weight in the bike. That is, when one invests more money into their bike, it’s to make the bike lighter. The lighter the bicycle is, the more efficiency there is in peddling. For the competitive cyclist, efficient peddling equates to faster times. This makes sense since competitive cyclists ride exclusively for time.
However, for the common fitness enthusiast or weight loss candidate, riding for time should be a lesser concern, and cardio output should be a priority. I’m no math whiz, but this doesn’t add up to match the popular trend of investing in a lighter bike. If a heavier bike is less expensive, and riding it longer will promote an increased fitness level sooner, I fail to understand the investment in a lighter bike as a means of easier peddling.
Notwithstanding, I have known dozens of people willing to invest an extra few hundred dollars on their bike, only to reduce the weight by a single pound. Yet many of these same people are carrying an extra 20 pounds around their waist. That math adds up even less. Losing weight is free, and without that extra 20 pounds of bodyweight, the overall load would be lightened considerably. At some point, I wonder why the mentality hasn’t evolved into having an engine installed on the bike so one can just sit back and just enjoy the ride. Wait, it has evolved that way…
The Technology On The Inside
I am reminded of the many golfers I have known who have come to depend on – come to expect club technology to improve their game. I often think lesser clubs would be just as effective for the frustrated golfer, if only he would only take time to hit balls more regularly, take swing lessons, and concentrate more on the single shot, rather than showing off what he thinks he knows. Be it in golf, cycling, or weight loss, it takes effort and consistency to improve.
The quest to have the lightest bike, and the latest in technologies seems to be much more about keeping up with trends than it does to reap the benefits of cycling. I’ll suggest for most who invest in titanium forks, and who take time to cut off the seat post below the clamp, these values will never be noticed during the ride. For those who chose to lose 20 pounds around the waist though, that would be noticed.
The technology most needed to affect change in the body is the technology on the inside – the circuitry inside the mind, where rational decisions are made, or not. Primary among these decisions should be the acceptance that true change requires effort more than it requires technology.
Dr. J and I once joked, “It’s called a workout, not an easeout.” For guys like us anyway… Be well. rc
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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender inside my head. Thank you.