Back in the day, all my friends rode mountain bikes. I upgraded from my post college mountain bike, a Specialized Hardrock, to a tough looking Jamis hard tail with cool front shocks. It was the year before disc breaks became de rigueur which meant I saved an extra $1,000 on something that at this point spends most of its time resting in one spot and not being used.
I rode a lot for a couple years. Climbing hills was not my strength, but I loved single track and fun downhills. Then I decided it was time to get clipless pedals, and things went down hill for me in a bad way. Try as I might, I had such a difficult time getting out of those pedals. I started crashing a lot. I got really bruised. Random people on the street would see my bruises and ask me if everything was ok in my life, fearing perhaps that I was in an abusive relationship. The only abusive relationship was the one I was having with those darn pedals.
My bike friends assured me that it takes a little time to figure out clipless pedals, but I would get it. They were wrong.
As my group of mountain bike friends moved away, one by one, I did not seek to replace them. If I were more committed to the sport, I certainly would have found others who wanted to ride. But, I was actually relieved at the time. I wanted a break from all the stuff I needed to pack in order to go for a ride – like my Camel back, bike shoes, bike gloves, helmet, bike tools, bike shorts, bike shirt, and most importantly the bike. And I no longer had to rush home from work to make the 5:30 group ride. And of course, the whole clipless pedal thing still was not resolved at that point either.
Since then, I’ve developed a fondness of the simplicity of going for a run. All I need is my running shoes. It’s so easy. I leave from my house; I run a loop and am back at my house for a short stretch. Lance Armstrong made a similar claim about the simplicity of running in a recent Runner’s World interview:
“Why running at this point in your life? Well, several reasons. One, I believe that fitness is a huge part of leading a happy, healthy, rich life. So, I can choose to do a lot of things. I can run, I can ride, I can swim, I can kayak, I can do a lot of things, but I happen to enjoy running. We have a huge running community here in Austin so runners are well supported and there’s a great trail around town and a good environment to run in. And also it’s a very efficient use of my time. With cycling, you need more of a time commitment in order to get the same workout. So if I’m trying to juggle my work with the foundation, my kids, exercise, running just makes a lot more sense. Then if you layer all of that into a travel schedule, certainly it’s easier to pack up shorts and running shoes as opposed to the bike, the wheels, the helmet, all the gear that that requires.”
Last summer, though, I bought new clipless pedals. Amazingly enough, I clicked right out of them. I realized that after struggling, and adjusting the settings, lubing them up, that my first pair was just bad pedals. Why, I hadn’t thought of blaming my inability to release on the pedals themselves in the first place was beyond me. Who does not love to blame their lack of athletic prowess on a malfunctioning piece of equipment? I certainly do.
So now that I am finally ready to ride again, there sits my bike with a flat tire that I need to change. And I look at it and decide, I’ll just go for a run today and change it tomorrow.