Thursday, September 13, 2018

Flashbacks of a reformed roadie

Despite my recent love of the trails, I still do enjoy road riding and miss it a lot. I miss the freedom and peace, speeding along on an open road. Your legs carrying you as far and fast as they can while exploring areas you’d never have a reason to drive through. There was great road riding in Massachusetts where I first started biking, and surprisingly in southeastern Virginia, where I went to grad school. I especially miss my morning rides, starting just as the sun is rising, seeing a beautiful part of the day that few people do.

Unfortunately, where we live in SC, road riding is not very accessible. When we first moved there, I tried to go on rides to find a fun and, most importantly, safe route. But it was a futile search. So I’ve retired my tri bike to my trainer and my road bike has been hanging off the ceiling, out of the way. That is, until I finally had an excuse to take it down and pump up it's tires.

On Labor Day weekend, my friend invited me down to Savannah to show me some mountain biking trails and also to help her lead a road ride the next day. It was a 25 mile ride that was part of the Savannah Century Ride. Being the shortest ride of the event, it was marketed towards beginner and casual riders. A great excuse to get out on the road and explore a new city.

When we arrived to the ride in the morning, I had so many flashbacks of my past life as a roadie and realizations of where I would have ended up if I hadn’t met Alex and found mountain biking. I probably would have been one of the Lycra clad cyclist, warming up on my full-carbon speed machine, ready to drop anyone that couldn’t keep up with me. I’ve been there, done that, got the QOMs to prove it. Even though I could probably pretty easily slip back into that persona, get caught up in the road/triathlon biking culture, it just doesn’t feel right for me anymore. Not all roadies/triathletes are like this, but with me loving speed on the road and being competitive with myself, it drives me to want to ride with the fast, competitive, and not necessarily welcoming crowd.

Me in my previous life as a road triathlete at USAT Collegiate National in Tempe, AZ. Disc wheel is homemade :)
But, wow, mountain biking has changed me as a cyclist, and as an athlete as a whole. I no longer think speed is all that matters, and that stopping and trying something again means you’re weak. I no longer think I need to have a PR on Strava on every ride. I no longer care about having the lightest, fastest bike, but instead the one that makes me feel the most confident and, most importantly, lets me have the most fun. Because ultimately, as Alex taught me, mountain biking is all about playing on a bike and having fun. Learning to do things smoothly and confidently is way more important than just how fast you can do them, because in the end, learning all the proper techniques will make you a better, faster rider... and then you can have even more fun!

Okay, back to the road ride. The one we were “leading” (I had no clue where we were going since this was my first time in Savannah. I think I was more emotional support crew than leader) was a very different make-up than the longer rides of the day – lots of beginners, people on mountain bikes and hybrids, which was completely fine! They were just out there for a nice cruise along beautiful roads. I was so excited to be back on the road that I had to consciously hold myself back from taking off and leaving the group behind. But after I got into the groove of the pace, I enjoyed chatting with other riders and looking at the beautiful houses and scenery. Even road biking doesn’t have to be fast to be enjoyable!

But it does have to be relatively car free to be enjoyable. As it started getting later in the day and more cars were zooming close by us, I remembered why I haven’t gone for a road ride in over a year. As much as I’m scared of falling on the trails, I’m more scared of getting hit by a car. And that is something I cannot control and definitely not worth the risk.

Hopefully one day in the future, we'll live somewhere that has better road biking. But until then, I'm more than happy just being on the trails learning, practicing, and improving. It was fun being back on the road for the day, but I'm not sure I fit in with roadie/triathlon culture anymore with its competitive nature. But there's so much to mountain biking culture that I've barely scratched the surface, so not sure where I fit in with that either. But really who cares where you fit in? All that matters is that you're having fun with it. And I can say that for surely sure I am!

Don't forget to like my Facebook page to stay updated on new posts and other random mountain biking things!

No comments:

Post a Comment