Saturday, May 29, 2010

Road Biking: A Hate-Hate Relationship

I hate road biking. This is not an essay. There will be no glitzy, eye catching introduction. No smoothing transitions, no clever thesis. I don’t want anybody to be remotely confused about the facts in this piece: namely, that I think road biking out and out sucks.

Now, some might think a guy such as myself who enjoys a little physical activity, the outdoors, and speed would be a road biking enthusiast. And this is where you would be dead wrong. From my perspective, there is literally no good reason to ever get on a road bike. It’s a pretty simple formula.

If you’re road biking to get in a workout, you have to go for twice as long, because it’s more difficult to get in Zone on the bike, because of the greater efficiency. Therefore you could get equal exercise by spending an hour in your running shoes, or two hours on the bike. What’s a better use of your time?

To those who argue that you can adventure farther and further on the bike then you can on foot. This is true, but if I want to go further than I could on foot, I would hop in my car and drive in comfort and safety, and careen around cool roads sitting on top of 1 ton of metal and plastic.

Some people would say that this misses out on the experience of the outdoors, the beautiful air, hard work and exercise, and the reward of getting somewhere yourself. All great goals, I admit – but not on your road bike. If I want all of those things, a good trail run, a hike, or a bouldering session will work just as well for me.

And this brings me to the most important part of why I hate road biking – the existence of other people. On 95% of road biking experiences, you are forced to deal with cars, driven by jerks like me, while negotiating roads which were not built for the purpose of your existence. You’re forced to share the road with people who have no interest sharing the road, and are in fact dead set on NOT sharing. Why would you want your exercise experience to be a battle for control?

And last but not least - professional cycling. I will readily admit that I know very little about pro cycling. But what little I do know involves a ton of doping. Floyd Landis won the Tour de France, and then got busted for doping. And then he spent a zillion dollars on defending the fact that he wasn't a doper, just a back woods Mennonite. And now he comes out and accepts the fact that he was just a doper. In fact, Landis now claims, not only is he a doper, but so is Lance Armstrong, and every other major cycling figure in the last X number of years.

The problem here lies with blasting Armstrong. I mean, in skiing, everyone knows Justyna Kowalcyzk is a EPO stuffed, ugly red and white suit wearing, FIS-insulting, terrorist-racist-sexist pile of cheating garbage, but she literally has NO redeeming qualities, so its pretty safe to hate her. Lance on the other hand, is a 7 time tour winner, or something like that, has survived cancer and made a comeback on the bike, has written several self-serving books, has a whole landfill full of yellow bracelets, and is widely considered to be somewhat of a good guy. Which makes things complicated, because I would love to hate him, but he's making it confusing. And that blurs the entire sport for me, because I am entirely uneducated, so Lance pretty much is pro cycling for me.

So, to wrap up, find a nice piece of less than well travelled road, and get down to business. Enjoy the outside, not get into a boxing match with it. Take your road bike, and huck it off the nearest cliff. Finally, if someone was holding a gun to my head and telling me to go road biking, I’d take the bullet.


  1. I love road biking in a nice rural farming area where you can string together an 80km loop with three stop signs and 11 cars. Few things are more relaxing and enjoyable. Road biking in a city (Boston, for example!) is a crime against humanity.

    The biggest challenge with road biking is the zen-like aspect of it: you have to be comfortable in your own head. If you don't like being alone, you won't particularly enjoy road biking, at least not training.

    I used to be one of the largest pro cycling fans in the world. was my homepage and I knew everything about every race under the sun. Loved everything about it from the spring classics to the grand tours. I don't follow it anymore because I was finally overwhelmed by the doping and regulatory incompetence/impotence. It's rotten to the core.

  2. Theres nothing like the sound of a well oiled chain flowing through a Campy groupo to power you through a ride.

  3. It's mind-blowing to me that you can't have a go-cart or ATV on public roads but you can ride a bicycle! NOTHING is more annoying during your evening commute home than some jackass going 30mph under the speed limit on a road with no passing lanes! Why not let skateboarders on our roads as well hmm?