I’m not really sure where it came from or how it started, but there was a time in my life when my sisters and I would watch Rad 3 or 4 times a week, then we’d go outside on our bikes (mine was something between a mountain bike and a BMX bike) and ride down the two steps in front of the house, over the grass, off the curbs. We’d dive from our moving bikes onto our front lawn and roll. We pretended to run from Sargent Smith and race Bart Taylor. We had a “special love” for the movie.
Until my first road bike, playing Rad was the most fun I’d ever had on a bike.
But I grew up. Pretending to be chased by Sargent Smith became childish. The bike became utilitarian – a way to get to a summer job at the pool or something to avoid because your mom makes you wear a helmet. My sister started driving and I preferred to ride with her. Then I started driving and preferred it over biking (I’d never have called it cycling back then). The bike was a toy. Toys are for kids.
And we stopped watching Rad too.
Now, if you know anything about me, you probably know I have no interest in racing my bike. It’s not that I don’t like going fast or value getting faster. It’s not even that I’m afraid of riding in a group or bunch sprints or losing. Mostly it’s about fun.
I ran cross-country and track in high school, on a competitive team. I know about training. And, it’s true, some people enjoy that. The daily grind and going out in the rain because you owe yourself X miles. For me, It’s too much like work.
Most days, I’m on my bike. It’s fun. And I can, if I want (and I often do) pretend to train. Hill repeats on Beatty? Why not? Intervals on the Canal Trail? Ok. I can also take a day off without feeling guilty. I can spin home, into a headwind, and chat with another commuter. I could, if I wanted to (not that I would), turn around halfway up a steep climb and call it a day.
Yesterday, on the Canal Trail, I passed a group of seven guys and pretended I was in a break. I was Oscar Friere, they were the peloton. In the drops, I hammered home. Phil Ligget was in my ear announcing the gap. When I looked over my shoulder I expected them to be in an organized chase, bearing down on me. They were not. They were all sitting up, chatting, completely unaware of my presence. I put my head back down and went back to it. They didn’t have to play if they didn’t want.