The subsets of cycling are sociologically fascinating to me… and it’s always fun to explain them to noncyclists. Lately in my own life I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis as a cyclist.
I started out mostly a transportation cyclist, with the occasional recreational weekend mountain bike ride. But after I joined the SVBC staff, somehow at some point riding also became a serious exercise and recreational activity. Not a big surprise there, perhaps.
It was the next step I didn’t expect. It all happened because I started cycling with a racer. He doesn’t actually race, mind you, but he has the outlook of a racer—better, faster, stronger. In short, he pummels everybody. I’m a reasonably strong cyclist and I’m used to riding with men, but I generally prefer to hang out in the leisurely-weekend-enjoyable-ride mental space.
Those of you who have ridden with your partner likely know the script: They attempt to push you on rides. You get pissed, or worse—depressed. They spend the entire cool down analyzing your performance instead of enjoying the flowers. You think, “can’t we just F*$&ing enjoy ourselves?”
So suddenly I realized that the future of our riding was not going to travel down a happy path unless I did something. So I made an appointment for a fitness assessment, hoping to show a low peak power level so I could hold the test results up to him, once and for all confirming that I’d never keep up--and then only join him on his recovery rides. And I’d go back to doing more yoga or something.
My plan backfired. Apparently I have some sort of latent athletic ability that I was never made aware of during the first nearly 40 years of my life. When I asked my riding buddy to guess what my peak power is, based on our rides together, he guessed a full 70 watts lower than my actual peak power. The test results, instead of proving that I should just give up now, tell a different story—that I’m simply lazy.
Now he has full license to push me, because he knows exactly what my physiological capability is. He’s starting to drop phrases like “when you come riding with the guys.” Is there a word to describe the sensation a competitive man feels when his girlfriend beats his male buddies?
I think I’m in deep trouble.