Friday, May 27, 2011

Sport vs Transport

There is a powerful distinction to me between riding for sport/recreation, and riding a bike as a way to get from A to B. Not least in the bikes best suited for the activities. I ride for both, and enjoy both uses of my bikes very much.

For transport I ride a fairly heavy touring bike and most days put anywhere between 7 to 30 miles on it, depending on how much I have to do. I am often contrary, and for transportation, I like my bike to be a tad heavy. Obviously not excessively so - that's a waste of energy. But.....sturdy. Solid. Not going anywhere. I often carry large amounts of stuff on my bike, and having a heavy bike capable of getting a load home gives me a certain amount of security that no matter what I have to get done, it's not outside the realm of possibility. Behold a fairly sizeable grocery haul I brought home on the bike.

However, that's not to say I'm not all about sport riding. Last summer I was training for a century (which I admittedly never got to ride). I was doing large amounts of mileage every week, anywhere between 70-150 miles, with individual rides as long as 50 miles. My roadbike and I fused to become one creature with a fluid sense of cadence, shifting, and where turns felt more like instinct than a conscious movement of my handlebars. I also commuted on this bike 1-2 times a week, 15 miles in each direction. Earth's best commuter, it is not, but for those distances speed was the order of the day.

But this year for me has been the year of the commuter. I have the bike I've always wanted for it, set up exactly how I've wanted it. On my heavy bike I often feel like I can do anything (albeit at a slightly slower pace than on my roadbike). Ride any distance, go anywhere, and bring back almost anything I please. So they represent two totally different types of freedom to me. One of the freedom from my car, which I more or less regard as a gigantic four-wheeled ball and chain. The other is the freedom of the open road, the wind in my hair, and the feeling of invincibility of conquering a ride that once defeated me.

I don't know if sport or transport, if one is better than the other. I obviously on a personal level lean towards transport cycling for every day, but who am I to make that call for someone else. At least they ride a bike.

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