When you are a super excellent mid-50’s #profamateur #fakebikeracer whose life revolves around all things carbon all the time, it is easy to forget that there are other things in the world, things that are meaningful, interesting, educational, healthy, and a ton of fun, too. This past weekend I encountered just such a thing and would like to tell you about it, it is called cycling.
Every year the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition puts on a River Ride which does in fact go along a river but which also goes through big chunks of downtown L.A. They do this on bicycles; you pay an entry fee which goes to the best of causes, and then you ride your bicycle along public roads that you would otherwise ride for free, except that you’d never actually do it because you are too lazy to come up with the route, and because you’d never be able to arrange the pit stops, food, burritos, beer, and other things along the way.
But back to my discovery, this cycling thing.
What is cycling?
Cycling is where you ride a bicycle for fun; it has nothing in common with bike racing. At the River Ride this past weekend, which happened to be the event’s 18th edition, there were several thousand people on bicycles not racing, another way of saying “having fun.”
The first proof of the fun that everyone was having actually occurred prior to the cycling thing, and it occurred in the port-o-potties, or rather it didn’t occur at all. Pre-race port-a-potties are legendarily awful, for this reason: Racers are jittery AF. My friend reported that prior to doing her first sanctioned bike race a couple of weeks ago, she pooped three times before lining up to race.
What this means is that your bike race port-a-potty experience can be ghastly. Not so with the port-a-potties at a cycling event. It was pointed out to me by Mrs. WM, who pays very close attention to such things, that “Racer poopers are worst! The fun bicycle poopers don’t hardly even poop. Itsa clean and not stinky!”
In other words, cycling peeps, unlike bike racers, aren’t riven with terror and anxiety, so their bowels stay firm. Why aren’t they riven with terror and anxiety? Because they are there to have fun.
It seemed like everyone at the River Ride was there to have fun and no one was there to do EPO and testosterone and kill the other person for a trinket. Here are some ways that I noticed these cyclist folks having fun:
- Bike-mounted sound systems. Lots of people carried their own boom boxes, and others actually sang along. Never seen anyone singing at CBR.
- Comfy clothing. Many cyclists were wearing loose fitting garb that didn’t restrict aortas and such. Others wore comfy sneakers. One dude did the century in flip-flops.
- Frequent stops. Cyclists stopped at every rest stop and “topped up” with every kind of snack imaginable. They chatted, laughed, compared notes, rode some more or simply turned around and called it a day.
- Kids. Cyclists brought kids rather than leaving them in the cellar while dad spent the day doing a manly road race in eastern Yolo County. Kids got to ride and get medals or, better yet, free pop.
- Spousal and significant other units. Cyclists brought people they loved to the event and rode with them.
- Leisurely beer and burrito refueling. After riding, even for the short 35-miler, cyclists congregated under tents, and ate burritos that were bigger than the Hindenburg.
- No shoutypantsing. Cyclists didn’t shout at each other, chop wheels, or engage in post-ride punchemups over who jiggled who for 42nd place.
- Smiling. Cyclists smiled from the beginning to the end, except when they were a bit tuckered out with ten miles to go and a headwind.
Based on my experience, I think I would like to do more cycling. It seems like a fun and interesting way to meet people and have fun. Now where do I get one of those little mirrors?
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