Monday, February 27, 2012

The Everyday Epic Ride

It's been a few days since my last post ... mainly because the weather's been great, and accompanying the great weather has been a week of great rides. Nothing spectacular or "epic" for any particular reason ... just great rides. However, spending a little more time riding has taken a little more time away from non-work-related writing ... hence the lack of blogular postage. My apologies for anyone who waits with great anticipation for each of my posts (last I checked there is actually one person who reads them).

In thinking about the great rides that are great for no particular reason, I was trying to come up with some wonderful bit of prose to share the experience with you ... but nothing came to mind, apart from the small group of gray squirrels who were intent on taunting me by waiting just at the edge of the road and then jumping up to make me think I'd hit them, then laughing as they ran away because they made me stop. Of course, there are no photos to document this ... but it really did happen ... twice.

At the same time, I was thinking about the bike-related blogs out there. One of my favorite daily reads, EcoVelo, has gone away. It's sad, because there was always something interesting to read there that had nothing to do with any sort of competitive, training, or epic riding ... just great photos and articles about everyday riding and gear. There is another (for which I won't mention the name) that had a similar focus ... but now seems to be more about getting into race bikes, group training rides, and entering epic long-distance events. Not interesting to me. Don't get me wrong ... I have nothing against sport/competitive cycling. I have an enormous amount of respect for the sport and for those who are involved in it. It's really hard work, and really rewarding to complete some of the events out there ... pushing yourself to the limit to achieve big goals is a wonderful way to spend some healthy effort. For me ... it's just not why I ride ... and, with all due respect to the many people who write about it, it's not something I want to read about every day.

Bombing down a steep hill on a race bike training ride ... great for many ... not for me

I suppose the reason there isn't more reading material available for "everyday" cycling is that it's pretty bland. I mean, in comparison to the ride report of climbing near-vertical mountain roads until you vomit and descending at 70mph, nearly sliding off a cliff and breaking your collarbone, a description of riding to the beach, eating some lunch, and picking up a few things at the grocery store on the way home sounds pretty tame. Nevertheless, there are probably more people who participate in the tame than in the epic ... and I am making it my mission to bring excitement to the world of the everyday cycler.

With this in mind, I propose a new naming protocol for our everyday rides. Here's the scoop:

Have you noticed that all of the "epic" rides have some kind of special moniker that describes its length? For example, a ride of 100 miles is called a "century", which makes it sound a lot more "epic" than simply saying it's a 100-mile ride. After all, when we hear the word "century", we think about a span of time greater than most of us will live ... so using it to describe a bike ride is like saying "this ride is so long and so difficult, you may not survive", which is somehow attractive to the thrill seekers. A "metric century" sounds even more "epic", even though it's technically much shorter, being only 100 kilometers. The REALLY epic rides are the "double century" rides ... 200 miles (or kilometers for the metric version). Well ... the everyday cycler's version of the epic ride could be called a "decade". Think about it. If a century is 100 miles, a "decade" would be 10 miles. That's enough for an everyday ride, right? If you need more, you could do a "double decade" for 20 miles ... or even a "triple decade" for 30 miles. It sure makes the normal bland everyday ride sound more exciting, doesn't it?

Of course, every big epic ride has some kind of additional verbiage attached to describe where the ride is, or who sponsors it, or to make it sound more torturous ... like the "Hell's Gate 100" ... or the "SoCal Double Century". Well that's easy to incorporate into the everyday epic ride title. How about The Doheny Double Decade?

Scene from the Epic "Doheny Double Decade"

We could have "The Heritage Park Hill Climb Half Decade" ... and "The Aliso Creek Trail Triple Decade".

How is this NOT an epic ride?

Trail-side scenery is not always appreciated during a competitive "event" ride.

And let's not forget "The Wind Tunnel From Hell". Of course, almost any everyday ride could be turned into an event ... like the "Starbucks Grab & Go Epic Double-Latte Half Decade With Whipped Cream".

First leg of the "Starbucks Grab & Go Epic Double-Latte Half Decade With Whipped Cream" ride.

The beauty of these EveryDay Epics is that they aren't competitive ... unless you want them to be. They don't cost anything to enter ... aside from your time. They don't require any special training. You don't have to wear any special clothing ... unless you want to. You're always the winner of the event, and the prize is whatever you reward yourself with after the ride. And you can participate at any time, since there's no schedule. You can even stop halfway for lunch and continue later ... with no time penalty. If you don't go as far as you planned, you can simply rename the ride ... a decade is then just a half-decade, but no less "epic" in nature. You can ride alone or with others ... and everyone wins, unless you decide to make it competitive, in which case I suggest the person who has the most fun (determined by best "woohoohoo" when crossing the finish line) is declared the winner. Take a camera and start building a photo album to remember your epic events. Put on a helmet video camera, speed up the video, and add a heavy metal soundtrack for posting on YouTube ... just remember to not giggle like a little girl on camera (or at least mute the audio track).

Yes, it's very exciting to think about those big epic cycling events ... and if you're truly into doing it, then my helmet is off to you. But if you're new to cycling ... or feel somehow that you're not a "real" cyclist because that's all you see in the media ... don't worry. As Forrest Gump's mom used to say ... "Epic is as Epic does". In other words ... make your own epic ... every day. Go have fun. Give your 10-mile ride an epic name ... call it the Decade of Death, even if you're just riding to the grocery store and back (traffic can be dangerous, right?). Remember ... you're not a "cyclist" ... you're a "cycler" ... and "cyclers" make their own adventures in the everyday ride!

So let's start a new trend ... Everyday Epic Rides. Healthy, happy, fun. Where is your epic ride today?

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