Contrary to the popular norm, I ride my bike completely without electronics. This shocking state of affairs is the product of a happy accident – much like most genuine breakthroughs in mankind’s history… Only much, much less significant. I tend to raise eyebrows on the rare occasions when I ask: “How many miles have we done?” Or, to the bewilderment of all – I have no idea what my mph average is; I just ride my bike.
My average speed is exactly whatever it happens to be on any given day and I really, truly, don’t care very much.
The stem of my bike is graced with a Garmin mount, but no Garmin. That is only for when I have no idea where I’m going. Even then I would rather memorize a map than deal with a Garmin. There is no reason why Garmin has to be so user UN-friendly. If mobile phone manufacturers can figure out mapping software – what’s wrong with Garmin?? But that’s another rant for another day and I’m not in the business of ‘hating’ on Garmin, they serve a useful purpose… On someone else’s bike.
My handlebars are simplistically free of any gadgets, my cranks are nontechnical, and my wheels have no sensors decorating them. I don’t even have a Strava account to the horror of all the Strava addicts out there! As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single electronic thingy anywhere on my bike except my phone. If I felt that I could leave that too, I would. I’m positively archaic! But wonderfully FREE.
You see, many years ago I lost the electronic doohickey that tells you how fast you are going and for how long. I became so immediately happy with a new found sense of freedom that I never replaced it. It was if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and maybe it had! As a matter of fact (according to those I rode with frequently) I increased my average speed as soon as it flew off of my bike stem. I haven’t looked back (or down) since.
Cycling is mostly mental – like it or not. You can crunch all the numbers you want, but if you are not MENTALLY in the game you don’t perform as well. Same thing applies to mental conditioning. I was ‘conditioned’ to think that I should hurt when I reached a certain speed. Or, I would fret if I wasn’t keeping a certain pace all the time. The speedometer on my bike had become a source of more reasons why I wasn’t good enough, fast enough, or whatever I found to beat myself up about on that ride.
Good riddance electronic thingy!!
I ride exactly how I feel on any given day – I just ride. Sometimes that’s fairly quick, sometimes I couldn’t outrun a lame chicken. Whatever I am feeling on that ride: I am doing something very important that many cyclist, who are so caught up in what their gadgets are telling them, miss entirely. I am paying attention to what my body is saying.
If you are more in tune with your body, you can train to your limits. Makes no sense? That’s ok… It’s not supposed to because I don’t have any data to back that up (duh, no electronics!). Let’s just chalk it up to experience, eh? Let me put it this way: I don’t push my body when it cannot deliver and needs rest. I CAN push harder when I feel that I have the ability to do so, and I do so with freedom without anything yakking at me that I’m exceeding some limit or such nonsense. Yeah, I might be seeing spots but I’m sprinting like someone lit a rocket in my…. well, you get the picture.
I will say that not everyone that trains with electronics is obsessive about them and they can ignore the beeps and boops that are sprinkled in amidst their ride. But, there are more than a few that find it annoying (but want the data) and stuff the Garmin in their back pocket. At some level of consciousness those ‘Garmin Pocket Stuffers’ have recognized that constantly interacting with electronics during a bike ride might affect their experience but they haven’t quite been able to let go of the numbers yet.
Numbers are great, they can tell you how you were performing at what speed and how many watts. You can analyze what your trends were over any distance – and if you are a REAL geek about it: you could map it out based on your cycle (for the ladies – not bicycle, men) and figure out what your expected output is on any given day! Wonderful! If life was constant. If your body didn’t adapt.
The only constant in the universe is change.
Although I think numbers are cool (statistical analysis pays my bills) – one must also recognize that there are so many variables; all you really know for sure is what is going on RIGHT NOW.
There are days when I realize that I am about to become a tourist mid-ride and there are days when I feel like I can conquer the world. Regardless of the day I’m not a slave to any impersonal data-collecting device. I have the freedom to feel exactly as I feel without thinking of what I ‘should’ or ‘should not’ do. I can train to MY limits and push as hard as I know my body can perform – and sometimes I’ll surprise myself with what I can do.
Isn’t it nice to be pleasantly surprised every now and then?