When you start cycling you do a cost-benefit analysis, either consciously or sub-consciously. You weigh up the positives - increased fitness, healthy competition, camaraderie, fun – against the negatives – the financial cost, unhealthy competition, braggadocio, shaving rash in places it shouldn’t ever occur, chafing. Eventually you decide that it’s worth it.
And it is worth it. I’d never suggest otherwise. But there are probably some further negatives you’ve neglected to factor in. It’s only when they become pressing that you realize that you’ve overlooked them. And this weekend just gone they’ve become pressing, if not for me, then definitely for folks who I hold in high regard.
The first of these is crashes, which are common. But even though they are common, it’s important not to factor them in to your analysis. This may seem counterintuitive, as they certainly represent a gigantic flashing minus sign, but the minute you start recognizing crashing as a factor is the minute you become a very average racer. You have to ride smart, sure, and safe too – I’ll be the first one to rip you to shreds if you ride dangerously – but if you’re worrying about crashing all the time then you’re not worrying about going fast, getting through traffic or around that next corner – all the stuff that makes cycling fun.
This being said, when crashes happen they tear the guts out of every cyclist everywhere. Every one of us has crashed at some point, and we all know the pain of gravel rash, bruises, broken bones. Some of us know the pain of paralysis, intensive care units, death of loved ones. When you hear of someone you know suffering your heart goes out to them, and next time you get on the bike you hope that today won’t be the day it happens to you.
The second of these are the cops. This is a tad more controversial, but hey, if you ride alleycats cops are a problem. Such as on Friday night, when Campbell was forced to hide in a carpark for a good fifteen minutes until the cops gave up on finding him – in his Halloween outfit. Which was an extremely skimpy bikini. Or last night, when Pip found himself in the cells for four hours thanks to a party that got out of hand. I don’t think you should factor in the cops either, but rather ride like they’re not there at all. Occasionally you get fined (twice in the last month, in my case), occasionally you spend a night in prison.
So, in light of the series of totally shit incidents that have tipped the scales a little more to the negative side, I’m getting interactive. A while back Liam had a crack at explaining why we ride alleycats, but I’m going to broaden the topic a little bit and ask you, reader, why you ride. Don’t make it too long, because my attention span is short. Leave your response in the comments section. Best one wins a prize. I swear this time the prize exists.