Chapter 3.

My name is Snappy and I’m an addict

..and you all respond in unison "Hi Snappy".

So what’s with on-line clubs? Newbies to any online forum are so keen to get involved. They want to contribute to every topic (whether they know anything about it or not) and the forum always open in their browser.  Every email notification is switched to 'on' so they don’t miss a thing, and everyone who replies to their topic is a new best friend.  (editor’s note: Maybe rewrite this bit and chisel off the cynical edges)

But things do settle down and the newbie reverts to type. We learn what really makes them tick from the topics they keep returning to. You might read “Yeah, I agree those gels are awful…. but maybe they’d taste nicer if we didn’t have to wear helmets all the time?” (editor: NO, NO and NO - that’s gotta go)

Some people start to reveal a dark sense of humour and make little quips that endeavor to brighten the tedium of another long ride report (editor: careful!). Others simply read the topics and hardly ever respond because they've seen most of these subjects before, and only visit the forum to keep in touch.

Forums are most fun when they start and the community is small. There’s the illusion that you “know” everyone who contributes and it feels like your gang. But when it becomes so large and popular that you don’t recognize as many avatars you can feel like you’re talking to strangers. It’s not the same anymore. Things get big, people start to get snippy, because it’s easier to be snippy with someone you don’t really know, and then you get factions and it all breaks up into new smaller groups.  This is not unique to online forums. It’s the way of the world.  Whole countries, political parties, churches and chess clubs have all been doing this for years.

Jeez, how did I get there? Sorry. Oh yeah, but there is another alternative to the online politics. Put down the mouse and go and ride your bike. It puzzled me that an outdoor pursuit resulted in people spending so much of their leisure time sitting at a computer. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony here, thanks). And that’s the heart of Adelaide Cyclists. Yes it’s an online club, but it’s greatest moments are not when we’re talking to each other online, but talking to each other from a bike saddle, or across a coffee after a ride.

After a year or so I noticed that I was riding more and more, and maybe commenting here a bit less. For a while I was riding once or twice a week. Tuesday mornings I’d be up the bollards and back and then Saturday I’d sneak off for a longer explore in the hills. Then some weeks I added another ride on Wednesday, or maybe I'd go out with those guys on Friday mornings. Not to mention the freedom to swing a leg over and head out alone anytime I felt like it.

I saw two benefits to this. Adding even one extra ride per week caused a jump in my fitness and secondly I got to mix with more groups and meet different people. The catch, and there’s always a catch, is that it all takes time. Time when I couldn’t be with my family and time when I couldn't be working. When people talk about achieving work-life balance they mean the problem of spending too much time at the office for their own good. I struggle to keep a cycling-work balance because if I cycle too much I won’t have much work left. It’s great meeting new people on a ride, but the people dearest to me - my family and many non cycling friends - can be left out of the loop.

As a hobby, cycling works on so many levels:

  1. It keeps you fit.
  2. You get to see and enjoy nature in a wonderful way.
  3. You can experience the adrenalin rush of speed and danger.
  4. It’s a very social activity, as long as you like coffee.
  5. It has lots of shiny equipment, accessories, and clothes you can buy into and collect.
  6. The male (usually the male) can tinker mechanically and satisfy those “shed urges”.
  7. You can follow professional cycling and sit up late watching TV sport like all good Orstralyns love.

So you can see how easily people can get hooked on cycling. A side note to that last point. An AFL- mad mate of mine said the other day, “Jeez, it’s transfer season. I never thought Buddy would leave Hawthorn’’. I said “Yeah, I was even more surprised than when Cavendish left Sky last year”. He went a bit quiet. He may have been less confused if I’d told him I was gay.

On the fitness thing, the drive to become fitter became a major motivation. I wanted to keep up with the faster guys. At first simply because it was embarrassing to keep them waiting at the top of every hill, but then slowly I started to get obsessed by fitness and to watch my times or even worry about arcane things like ‘heart rate’. (editor: don’t even mention power meters). It felt good to be able to ride long distances without feeling like you were struggling at the bleeding edge all day, and arrive home feeling fresh.

Want to be fitter = want to ride more = want to be fitter = want to ride...
Hmmm-  Does anyone see a problem developing here?

The flip side to this is I have to remind myself that at fifty I’m never going to be a top athlete so who am I kidding. Secondly, I need to be careful not to only choose my rides by how fast or hard they might be. Some people I’ve enjoyed riding with are quite happy going for a once-a-week pootle around town. If I diss them because that ride won’t be good “training” that would be a pretty sad situation.

The take home messages for me:  Remember ALL the different reasons why you love cycling, and don’t be a dick. Remember not everyone is as obsessed by bikes as you are, and don’t be a geek!

Views: 397

Comment by Justin V on November 22, 2013 at 10:35

Hi Snappy - a great read, I could have written it myself. Spooky how true it all is.

Comment by CLP on November 22, 2013 at 10:51

Great reading..   thanks for that :)  

Comment by Gus on November 22, 2013 at 10:52

You're gay! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Can I ask you a question. Do you think it would have all panned out the same ten years ago?

Comment by Rob (Chewbacca) on November 22, 2013 at 10:55
Known people who have become incredibly fit and reach a high level, then hear about their accident or injury and end up at square one again. It all becomes a competition not so much with others but by improving your owm performance. If you get sick and you have to ride to stay at a particular level you can get very sick...your performance on a weekly ride drops and you lose motivation and get frustrated. Remember the reason you first started and enjoy the bike and just ride without it being a will be more fun and not a second occupation and it wont take ypu away from home when your partner requires you at home to do your shate of the know what they say about a ....happy life :-)
Comment by snappy_don on November 22, 2013 at 11:10

You're gay! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Gus, you aren't the first to tell me that, and you certainly won't be the last. Typically I'm reminded every week or so from the window of a passing ute, as it lurches past..

" YOOOOUUUURRRrrrrreeeeGAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy"

Can I ask you a question. Do you think it would have all panned out the same ten years ago?

Dunno. Good question. Make that 20 years to take kids out of the equation and I suspect yes.  Except that with less wisdom and more testosterone on board I'd also be in a club and racing my heart out by now. I know there's nothing to stop an older guy racing. It all comes back to that balance thing.

Comment by Don (Who's lost?) Nairn on November 22, 2013 at 15:03

Will I get hate mail if I wonder perhaps what happens in private should stay private?

I didn't realize your private life affects so many things.

Comment by Gillian on November 22, 2013 at 16:41

Never mind Snappy, according to another scholar in a ute I'm "QUEEER". I suggest that you avoid Lampre kit :)

Loving your blogs.

Comment by Dahondude on November 22, 2013 at 22:17

Nice one Snap. Its depressing to find out all these people I ride with only started riding 5 or so years ago, whereas I've been doing it for 20. I'm just happy that my kids have reached the age where I can race 2 nights a week and still go out for 2-3 rides a week too.

Comment by rossmg on November 22, 2013 at 22:37
Actually I recommend a mind set change:
cycling != hobby (not equal)
cycling == transport choice, thus I get on the bike when I want to go somewhere (usually)
Comment by snappy_don on November 23, 2013 at 8:27

True Ross, but I'll keep thinking of it as a hobby. That way I'm still having fun when I'm riding to work.

And I should have added satisfaction of being environmentally responsible to my list

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