Misguided Intentions…

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.

32 pounds of fun...

32 pounds of fun…

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.

My pretty red bike.  Monserate Hill,, Fallbrook, CA...

My pretty red bike. Monserate Hill,, Fallbrook, CA…

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…

For s few hundred dollars more, you might even fit a V6 on this thing...

For s few hundred dollars more, you might even fit a V6 on this thing…

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.

I think of my friend, surgeon, pilot, and fitness enthusiast Dr. J and his bike, Desperado.  No gears.  No carbon fiber.  No body fat.  No problem.

Not sure if that's Dr. J, or Bruce Lee.  Same difference...

Not sure if that’s Dr. J, or Bruce Lee. Same difference…

Dr. J and I once joked,  “It’s called a workout, not an easeout.”   For guys like us anyway… Be well. rc


If you liked this essay, disliked it, or are indifferent to it, please take a moment to return to the top of this page and rate it.

Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender inside my head.  Thank you.

20 responses

  1. Thanks Roy!!

    I suppose my two favorite rides are my bike and my plane! Interesting that the Wright brothers were so involved with both of those means of transport. If you look at photos ot the brothers they were quite physically fit, and if you look at their work, interestingly, they were also quite mentally fit. I’m sure one supports the other.

    Years ago while riding Desperado back from a ten mile ride to the nearest grocery store with a backpack full of supplies I had the thought, if I won the lottery what would I do? Buy a new bike was my answer. Neither has happened.

    I ride that bike several times a week. Loyalty has its rewards.

    • Love it Dr. J. Looking at the pictures of Desperado has reprioritized my to-do list for this weekend. I have added, to the top of the list, “Clean up beach cruiser”

      Time to take that thing out of moth balls and put some miles back on it.

  2. Love that last quote!!! This is a great post & gives people plenty to think about! I am not a bike rider – just not my thing – BUT if I ever have to take it up in my old age, ;), I will remember this post! The point about over weight yet trying to make the ride easier … 🙂

    OK – man I love that pic of Dr. J!!! Is it Bruce Lee really! 😉

  3. This post applies to so many aspects of our lives – trying to have the “best” in the hopes that it will be the best thing for us – from bikes to cars to clothes.

    I’m not a cyclist, although I do bike occasionally. I got mine at a yard sale and it is very heavy. I’m sure I’d want the best I could afford if I were to start cycling in earnest, but would that be the best for me physically? Maybe not!

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