Friday, June 6, 2008

Some tips and tip-offs (#1)

Over the past month I have come to the realization that cycling is one of the least approachable sports to begin. Aside from the substantial monetary investments and the vast quantities of time spent riding, the most prohibiting aspect has to be its difficulty. Becoming a dedicated, serious, non-competitive amateur hurts.

So far I've suffered breathing difficulties, back stiffness, knee aches, lung soreness, debris lodged in my eyeballs, near-choking, falls, scrapes; and these are merely the physical injuries. Never mind the mental and emotional tolls of incessantly beating myself up over my stubborn physical ineptitude, the taunts shouted from passers-by, or the way I envision gravel roads to be constituted of a billion tiny middle fingers aggressively mocking my efforts.

As it's nearly been four weeks of grueling effort, I feel I now have amassed enough experience and anecdotes to begin passing on helpful, enlightening, life-changing advice. So today and in further posts I will share some handy tips intended for like-minded riders: the utterly, at times dangerously, clueless.
I will inject some drama by keeping today's counsel short yet weighty.

The most valuable tip to becoming a serious amateur recreational non-competitive cyclist:

Never, ever forget how much you suck. Every time you swing your leg over your saddle, remind yourself that as a beginner, you start at the bottom caste of the cycling world and that you may as well have leprosy and the plague. That your current state of athleticism in no way has prepared you or offered you any advantage. That your questions are irritating, your confidence laughable, and that nobody cares you rode for the first time up that big scary hill instead of your usual dismount and walk-up. Always remember that even on your good days you are still miserable, slow, and weak.

While that sinks in, I'm off for the weekend to watch a whole lot of cyclists who do not suck, as the pro cycling tour Triple Crown is in Philadelphia this week.

Happy Riding!