With all the latest news of widespread doping and cheating in professional bicycle racing, it really got me thinking of how much racing has influenced today’s cycling. Most of us have never even raced, or have only dabbled in competition. Yet I find it interesting that we that call ourselves cyclists have probably at one time or another been influenced by racing, whether it be a bicycle purchase, new parts, a flashy jersey, or an uncontrollable urge to go tackle a mountain pass after watching a stage of the Tour de France.
I don’t follow racing much, but still felt shocked as it was revealed just how widespread the cheating is in professional cycling, especially after such passionate public denial that no such thing was going on. I own and drive a car, but wouldn’t even blink if the same thing happened in NASCAR. A doping scandal in the marathon world wouldn’t change the way I think about walking and hiking.
So why do we feel such a connection to Lance Armstrong and so many other top racers, and why do we feel so let down? Why do we feel the need to constantly share our workouts, post our times and mileage, and wear race inspired clothing for simple joy rides? Has the advertising department in the cycling industry corrupted the way we think about bicycles? Have we forgotten the basic principles of riding a bike, that it’s an affordable and practical means of transportation, and that it’s also a lot fun?
While the scandals of the racing world are unfortunate, you shouldn’t let the news discourage you from riding your bike. It’s time to lose the “Go Big, or Go Home” attitude. It’s OK to just get out and ride. It doesn’t have to be epic. You don’t need to set any records or justify your performance to anyone else. Casually riding your bike around town is every bit a legitimate use of a bicycle as training and entering a competition. Wear your wind cheating skin suit, or just wear jeans and a t-shirt. Suffer up the highest mountain passes, or simply ride around the block just to feel the wind in your face. Hammer your carbon race bike to the finish line, or gently pedal your beach cruiser to the office. However you decide to use your bike is OK, as long as it feels right to you and you’re having fun!