Saturday, October 14, 2006

McGrumpy the anti-Cyclist

Today's weather: Grumpy, with a slight sprinkle of self-pity.

Well, of course as soon as I bragged about keeping my training schedule I imediately had a week in which I was so swamped with work that I couldn't keep it. Since I'm a teacher, and the report card period endeth, I had lots of grading and tutoring to do.

Today would have been the last long ride before Soma of 60 miles, but we wound up cutting it a little short. The ride back into town was a nightmare; the wind was in my face going out and then picked up, shifted, and was in my face coming back. I struggled up the hill into Rio Rancho while Sweet Baboo cackled insanely and taunted me, threatening to cut off food and water if I didn't speed up...


No, that didn't really happen.

It would be too easy to blame Sweet Baboo for how discouraged I get on the bike, but the truth is that he always waits at the end of each hill with smiles and encouragement, and he works very hard to make it enjoyable, and worries that I'll associate my lack of enjoyment with him, inevitably linking him to dislike and loathing. He makes training easier; for instance, today he discovered I was using the wrong chain ring most of the time.

It's not him; it's me.

I hate to say it, here it is.

At times,

more often than not,


I hate cycling.

Yes, you read right.


What's to like? I live in a place where there is no flat, every route has rollers and hills, and the wind shifts midway through the day so that if it's in your face in the morning, it will be in your face in the evening. Add to that my general paranoia about injuries; I have yet to do more than stumble in the 300+ miles of running I've done on 2006, but I've had two minor accidents on the bike, and they took me out of swimming and the bike for at least a month. Every three months or so I hear about a cyclist being killed, intensifying my fear and loathing. I feel trapped, fastened as I am to the pedals, unable to dodge obstacles or leave the path.

Accidents like Pirate's don't help my level of fear, nor does the crazy, zig-zagging fair-weather cyclists on the bike paths on the weekend, nor does the dozen or so careening Rednecks in SUV's and trucks that go screaming by on public roads, blasting their horns and showering me with dust. I live 4 miles from work, but the treatment I get by locals keeps me from biking there.

I've yet to have any endorphin-like moments on the bike. Often, after hill climbing, my knee hurts and my crotch is out of comission for days.
Some part of me will go numb. Maybe it's my feet, from the cold. Maybe it's my hands, from the vibration. Maybe it's my butt. Part of me will be sweaty, part of me will be freezing, and part of me will be numb.

Contrast that to running: I can dodge obstacles nimbly, leap up onto the curb or go down a dirt trail. I stumbled once, limped for about 10 feet, and then resumed running. I've been fortunate enought to have not been injured, and my joins seem to tolerate even the long runs I'm current doing of about 9 miles. I can always run slower, and believe me I will, going up a hill, or I can just stand. I can't just stand on a bike. I will fall over. (And I have.)

Infrequently, running with my headphones strapped on, even at my pace of around 12 or 13 minutes per mile, there are moments I feel that I'm flying. They don't happen often, but often enough to leave me like one of Skinner's pidgeons, pecking at the bar of the occasional moderate run, to see if I'll get that feeling again.
When I run, I feel strong, swift, and competent, even at the back of the pack.

When I ride my bike, I feel weak, ineffectual, slow, and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, I'm surrounded, living as I am in New Mexico, by people who LOVE the bike.



Want to MARRY it.

Things will get better; I know. They always do. After all, there was a time I hated running. and swimming. and, well, doing anything that made me sweat. Now I'm quite willing to sweat, even profusely on occasion.

I'm just going through a grumpy bike phase, I guess.

Tomorrow is a long run, about 12 miles. I'll feel better then.



  1. I wish I liked the bike more, too. I'm more nervous about it than I have reason to be. The only accidents I've had involve being in idiot while walking, not even training. I feel like I'm in control on the swim or run but the bike is some foreign harbinger of doom, just waiting. Good luck.

  2. I struggle with the bike too, but to a much larger extent. I am REALLY slow and therefore never have time for very long rides.

    For disliking it so much, you seem to be doing great!!

  3. here, hon, i've got something for you...

    I feel your pain - it took a lot of time to make friends with my saddle. also, never underestimate that your saddle might be the wrong one for you. speaking of which, have you had a professional fit? it could make a world of difference.

    i'll ride with you as part of my recovery from my PTSD.

  4. I'll take pitch dark, crappy county roads, with a rare wacko driver, anyday over traffic and inattentive wannabe cyclists.

    I think this is one advantage of living a rural, hermit-like lifestyle.

  5. Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I feel a little ridiculous doing it because it's not unusual to spend more time driving than biking, but I've gotten to where I'll only bike if I've got time to pack it into the car and drive out into the country where the roads are empty of everything but the occassional farmer. It's a killer place to ride - all rollers with the occassional ass-hander hill - but at least I feel safer.

  6. Yes, I often hate the bike, too--but my main reason is that I feel so stuck and confined on the machine. Don't get me wrong, Bessie, (my Serotta), is quite lovely but I just don't feel as free as I do when I run or swim. It's kind of a shame because I'm a much faster cyclist than runner or swimmer--if I cared about winning anything I'd probably stick to cycling exclusively but it just feels very unnatural. I highly doubt the hunter gatherers who came before us would have found much use for such things, do you?


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