My Friend Mark Flint made the following comments based on the facebook status posts about mileage, feet climbed, average speed, hours in the saddle and dragons slayed. My comments are below his quote.
“A perspective from one whose cycling days have been laid to rest by self-inflicted damage to my internal pump system…
I see year-end posts by some who measure success by miles ridden and elevation gained on the bike. I was never much into tracking that data because it’s a meaningless metric, and often more about ego than anything else. Sometimes those numbers mean time with family blown off, spiritual practice pushed aside, balance tilted way out of kilter. I say this as one guilty of all of the above, at one point nearly destroying my marriage.
Obsession with miles and average speed, now enabled by programs like Strava, can lead (have led, in fact) to lack of courtesy on the road and trail, a cult of egotism in the saddle. You see yourself as a marvelous cyclist; others may see you as a self-absorbed jerk.
You want meaningful metrics? How many cyclists did you stop and help with mechanical problems? How many times did you slow down to ride with someone who was struggling and offer encouragement and perhaps an energy bar? How many hours did you spend teaching and encouraging children? (Hint: if you can equal Damion Alexander you are doing very well indeed.)
Stopping to appreciate the beauty around you will do more for your soul than keeping your head down and pushing yourself to your limits will do for your body. Having done both to extremes I can assure you the former is the more lasting benefit. It was pushing myself that put me into heat exhaustion that led to permanent damage to the system that regulates heart rate. That’s what ego can do if you don’t keep yourself in mental and physical balance.”
I really appreciate that Mark thinks I have done a good job, but the reality is the bike does take me away from my Wife and daughter and I do use Strava to record every ride. I know exactly were many segments start and end and burst my lungs and light the fire in my legs to beat my own best time. I even made a post about my statistics.
Personally, I do not think there is anything wrong with these metrics. We all find our motivation in different ways. Some people like to race while others are just out for the ride. However, both are enjoying bikes and being outside. Is that not what matters?
I do agree with Mark on many points. If you are racing along and a cyclist is off their bike, I think we should always slow down and ask if they need assistance. If you are riding and chasing a KOM, but you will need to buzz someone, or run a light, or any other factor that you know makes you an A$$, don’t do it. Many of my best rides have been when I decided not to pass a slower rider but pulled up and rode with them. As I said, I have not been the best father to my daughter and husband, but I have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of miles (really slow miles) in the saddle next to my son. Many of those hours were coaching and mentoring other kids as well. If you have a kid, go for a ride. If you on’t have akid, mentor one, and go for a ride. I get a real thrill when I call friends who have stopped riding and invite them to go for a ride and then to see their year end stats where they rode x miles, and climbed x feet, and went x speed and slayed x dragons.
By the way, I rode over 5000 miles and had nearly 500 hours in the saddle and climbed a quarter million feet. I put that not for ego. I put that because I like to know what I did and where I went. I use Strava to remind me of all the great times I have had and where I went. I like to see improvements and strive to beat my best times and do get a small thrill when I get a KOM(even though I know it is meaningless and the tailwind is more responsible than I). Just looking at my rides reminds me who I met and what new road I explored. It, like facebook, and this blog, are my virtual diary.