February 13th, 2011

Bikes, Suits and Guitars

What bikes, suits and guitars all have in common, is they are each uncomfortable for about a year. It took playing the guitar every day, for the whole of 1984, for my fingertips to stop screaming and my parents to stop screaming for me to stop. It took cycling every day of 1992, before the wind in my ears stopped driving me crazy and I could stop trying to make myself aerodynamic, when all I had to do was keep pedaling. More recently, it took wearing a suit to work every day, for the whole of 2008, before I stopped feeling self conscious about outshining every man in my town. And look at me now:


Perseverance, my dears. Perseverance. Often I feel as though "occasional cyclists" are looking to me for the right words, to help them break through, and be more like me (not to have my chipped teeth, or be 5'8"—no, they just want the best bits). Typically, they expect me to tell them what they should buy, to transform their cycling experience from the torture they have not forgotten since Ride to Work Day, to whatever kind of bliss I must be enjoying, to ride as much as I do. There is an irony here, as it was precisely my inability to buy anything at all, that caused me to break through the pain threshold, and eventually come to love cycling. In 1992, I was too poor to even get on a bus. And since the world is full of cycling gear, discarded by people who thought they could buy their way into cycling Nirvana, I was able back then to pick up a second hand bike for next to nothing. Fitness and well being, is my Karma reward, I'm sorry to tell you. If you are a Ride to Work Day only type cyclist, I'm afraid your Karma reward is to be trapped thinking that buying stuff will transform you. 

Ever eager to help, I have this advice, that you ration your expenditure on cycling gear, according to hours spent actually cycling. The amount will depend on your income and how much consumerism means to you personally, but someone on an average income of say, half a million dollars per year, should grant themselves, let's say, $10 per hour spent in the saddle.