Basically, I'm riding my bike a bit. And it's pretty good. Brendan's back racing and tapping out miles as well. New Timer house is waking up from the winter slumber. The slight scent of spring is in the wind that's blowing through the back door. And with Hurley in my ear about racing this Saturday, it's all beginning to feel a bit fun again. If I wasn't listening to so much Bongripper I'd almost feel energetic.
'Training' is probably a misleading term. I trained a bit last year and it didn't really work for me. I didn't like the regimented nature of it. It got to the point where riding my bike became, not so much a chore, but at least something that I didn't have a choice in. Which is of course obscene. My new approach is more centred around the 'gonna ride pushies a bit'. Because, you know, that's ultimately my favourite thing to do ever. Regimented training is a good way to forget that.
Racing, on the other hand, is a different story. I'm often asked by friends whether racing takes the fun out of riding due to it becoming 'more serious'. If anything it does the opposite. Racing has taught me lots of stuff. How to ride in a bunch, how to ride a paceline or an echelon (though people at Footscray still yell at me when I do it wrong). I've learnt about little faux-pas that non racers don't learn about, like half wheeling. These are little benefits which, though meaningless ultimately, help you to become a fuller, more complete cyclist.
On a slightly more existential level, though, racing can deliver fairly amazing highs/lows. Riding a bike fast can be, without hyperbole, the shittest thing you ever do. That said it can also be the absolute pinnacle of your week/month/year. That pendulum swing is what's addictive, and what creates that desire to keep putting stupid cloths on. It's during these quasi chemical highs that one has these pivotal reminders that riding bikes, in its simplest form, is simply the most fun you can have outside of a Slayer concert.
Riding lonely miles in the rain because you have to train is a good way to make you hate yourself and your bike. Turning yourself inside out with a bunch of mates for a few hours, then retiring for avocado on toast and long blacks is one of the better ways to stay happy and engaged with life. At least that's what I've discovered.
Racing creates goals and direction which, though perhaps a little silly or overly ambitious, give you good cause to ride your pushie around with friends. As a corner stone to life, frankly, you could do worse.
I'm kind of aware I sound like a broken record here, and perhaps for some of you this is so bleedingly obvious it hurts, but it's been fairly important to me.
Riding pushies is fun. Race them if you can. Just so it gives you an excuse to spend time with friends, to eat avo on toast and drink coffee.
The crux of it for me, I suppose, is that bikes just mean good times with friends.
Get amongst it. But stay grim.