bike envy

when i was around 17 years old my best friend bought a brand new celeste colored bianchi racing bike. to this day, that is the one bike that i absolutely need, seriously i may check ebay today, or post an add in craigslist “missed connections” m4b. oh my god this was a beautiful bike, i still remember how thin and sleek it was, how it stood out amongst other bikes….. sigh.

what was i talking about? oh yeah bike envy. the problem with bike envy, any envy for that matter, is that it makes you like what you have a little bit less. after my friend got his bike it wasn’t long before i stated becoming embarrassed that i didn’t have a racing bike, and that i wasn’t wearing “molteni” jerseys, and tight fitting cycling pants. come to think of it that’s about when i began to take on running. i couldn’t afford to keep up with cycling, and running was very cheap, and runners all seemed friendlier and less concerned about gear.

i kind of left cycling, and it just became my form of transportation, and running became my passion. i ran some road races, joined the cross country and track teams in college, and even ran a couple marathons. i was a decent runner and fairly competitive….until my injury. i had achilles tendonitis and running was off the table for a while. i began biking for exercise. it was really cool, my few years of running had made me stronger, most of my pain receptors got burned off and i was much tougher as well. i rode almost every day about 20-30 miles, i often tried to maintain 20 mph, but all bets were off if it was windy. and, if i ever came into contact with a peloton of cyclist, i would back off a bit and kind of shy away.

cycling should not be intimidating. however, cycling is probably one of the most socially demanding, clickish sports around. it always has been and perhaps always will. there are bike messengers, the wanna be messengers riding to work everyday, the critical mass people, the single speeders, bmx street/freestyle, kids who ride to school, girls with baskets and flowers on their bikes, mountain bikes, trials riders, racers/cyclist…. just to name a few.

somewhere in my 30’s i became a racer. i guess i finally had a good enough job to buy all the cycling garb. i mostly did mountain bike races, with a few road races thrown in for fun. for a brief 5-7 years i actually fit in. i had cycling friends, went on group rides, took spin classes, and had shaved legs. cyclist were actually a good group of people…once you’re “in”.

sometimes the only way to realize that you don’t need something, is to actually have it. i didn’t need to be a cyclist. i didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have a “good” bike, or hundreds of dollars of garb. all i really need is a bike that works, clothes that wick moisture and shaved legs. what?! shaved legs?!? i know there is probably nothing more clickish than someone shaving their legs, but the thing is… there are many aspects of cycling that are good. embrace all of cycling not just the clicks. never look down on someone who doesn’t have a multi thousand dollar bike, or even a multi hundred dollar bike. never tell someone or think that someone has a “crappy” bike. never make excuses for your own bike not being as good as someone else’s.

my mission is to encourage cycling in any and all forms. i don’t usually ride in cycling garb, although i do occasionally. i try to make cycling very approachable. my everyday bike is quite modest, my clothes are plain, and i try to smile and wave to everyone on a bike. i try to help anyone with bike troubles. i am still pretty fast, and i can chase down almost any “cyclist” that tries to pass me with out saying “hi”.

One comment on: bike envy

  1. Shannon

    Ha ha ha! It is so good to read such a post! I always feel a little embarrassed about my bike…and it is freaking BRAND. NEW! I started training last February for my first sprint triathlon. I am a swimmer. Been swimming since I was 4…which makes that a pretty freaking long time at this point! LOL! I knew that I knew how to ride a bike, and so, I just needed to focus on the running part. I told myself that, if I could run a 10K race in March ’09 without stopping, that I would see if my husband would buy me a bike so I could do some training AND triathlons. He agreed that if I could dedicate myself to a 10K that I could get a bike.

    He bought me a bike much nicer than we could afford, but it is just a hybrid. It is not a road bike. It is not a tri bike. It does not have aerobars. I don’t even have a cage on it for a water bottle (cause I’m too chicken to let go of either handle bar long enough to get a drink-LOL). We could not afford the $700 that he spent on that bike for me. I am proud of it. I am thankful that he was willing to spend that much money on it for something that was just an extra-curricular activity for me.

    However, when I race, I feel inferior. I feel like people judge you based on gear. I can’t compete like that. All of my training and efforts have been based on minimal gear…with 3 kids, I put everything towards their needs. My husband has graciously allowed me to spend money on gear as I really needed it, but nothing ever elaborate…and that is fine with me anyway.

    However, it is great to hear from someone that is an avid cyclist that the bike itself shouldn’t be an issue. I will not have a road or tri bike anytime soon. I have a very good friend who tells me that I am exerting twice the effort on my hybrid than I would on even a road bike. Yet, I don’t have the heart to tell my husband that my bike isn’t good enough…when he bought the best one that even then we couldn’t afford.

    Thanks for the reassurance that it doesn’t freaking matter! I’m out there (well, not right now cause I’m focused on my marathon…but I will return to the bike…soon) on my hybrid…and it gets me from point A to B…and for now, that’s all that matters! Thanks for this post…good to know there are still non-judgmental, non-bike snobs still out there!

    (PS-Sorry…the 5 bricks thing is a challenge for me! I’m wordy! What can I say?!?)

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