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VecchioJo doesn't get a medal, and doesn't care

“Have a good ride?”
Hmm, it’s was okay..
“Where did you go?”
Oh, only up there, round there, across there and down there.
“Anything happen?”
Not really, it was just a ride.

“Oh.”

There always seems to be a certain level of disappointment from others when they discover your few hours out on a bike were just a ride. The lexicon of cycling has become so bloated with tales of daring do and awesomeness, formidable elements perpetually battled against and giants of cols eternally defeated by insignificant yet tenacious men that the ordinary has become almost pointless. To further fluff up the banal there are the tiresome Strava conquests, the personal bests, the medals for mediocrity and the files downloaded to impress. If that’s not enough then a million nothings happening every mile are socially shared in a thousand ways, divulged and spewed and empty noise spread loud and thin.

Just riding a bike writes in white.

The simple act of cycling has been hijacked by artfully unshaven men looking painfully into a drizzly black and white middle-distance, a 60 mile sportive is billed as Epic and no ride is worthy of regard unless there’s been Suffering, even indoors. The rhetoric has got out of hand as a modest pleasure has been appropriated, chewed up and marketed to sex up an overweight middle-aged man so he feels more worthwhile heaving puffy up a hill, to the point now that if none of that heroic hyperbole happens, if nothing of note unraveled during a ride and no teeth had to be gritted then it really doesn’t count.

Forget spinning along to clear the head, to work off that little bit of cake, to earn that bit of cake, even just enjoying the sunshine or simply to get out the house, none of these matter any more. Where’s the anguished hurt?

All you need is Just A Ride. Sometimes.

 

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

46 comments

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Metjas [362 posts] 2 years ago
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Someone talking sense, elegantly written.

I'm in, going out for just a ride tomorrow morning.

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GREGJONES [295 posts] 2 years ago
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Wow, that was rather good writing. Someone should print that on a top tube  41

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movingtarget [144 posts] 2 years ago
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Here, here. There's nothing like getting in the saddle just to feel the elements on your face. I think most of us ride because it makes us happy but apparently that's just too muppety to admit to. Whenever I think about going for a ride I can't help but smile. Great writing. Thanks.

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arfa [806 posts] 2 years ago
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Absolutely agree. Unplug and just get out there for the simple pleasure of being able to do so. Allow yourself the pleasure of riding for the reasons that make you happy and nothing more.
You will be more content for it.

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zzgavin [193 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 - The rhetoric has got out of hand as a modest pleasure has been appropriated, chewed up and marketed to sex up

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Veloacciaio [18 posts] 2 years ago
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I could no agree more. Leave the smart phone, cadence sensor, hrm and gps computer at home occasionally and just ride however your body fancies! They have been some of my best rides!

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monty dog [460 posts] 2 years ago
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Refreshing perspective - sometimes it's just nice to chill on the bike, particularly not to get wound-up by the cr@ppy weather that's decimated my plans for getting some decent rides in - 4 hours getting sprayed in the face from someone's mudflap-less mudguards on a potholed, mud-strewn road is no fun.

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lookmanohands [119 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah but where's the segment?  21

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Sounds like you had the misfortune to read a copy of Cyclist magazine there Jo.

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belgravedave [270 posts] 2 years ago
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Good to see Road.cc back doing what it used to do (so very well), namely taking the total piss out of the industry and the image it tries to get us to buy into.
Very very funny.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Increasingly common exchange
Weekend warrior :"Morning"
Me : "Morning - lovely day"
WW: "Yep great - where you off to?"
Me: "Erm - i dont know - nowhere in particular. What about yourself?"
WW: "Well im doing the Bobby BigBollox Sportive in six weeks so im trying to get some big miles in - got to do another 60k before lunch or i lose my place on the Strava league"
Me: "Well i think im just going to stop here and look at this cow having a bath in a big puddle and maybe have a Cornetto - so ill see you later ok? Bye"
WW: Disappearing into the distance...... "You really should be wearing a helmet you know?"

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Leviathan [2275 posts] 2 years ago
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What flavour of Cornetto?

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stealth [254 posts] 2 years ago
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"A sexed up, overweight, middle-aged man", even at half-asleep o'clock that is enough to encourage my breakfast to reappear! Great writing Jo.
People should just enjoy the ride, they will never be pro's, so stop, enjoy the beauty of where you are, take a photo. Leave the Strava, Sky kit & Sportive 'mentality' at home.

(You should know that at this time of year, my riding is mostly in the dark, so there is nothing to see. A lot of my summer riding is Time Trialling, so when the stopwatch isn't running it feels good to just 'ride').

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 2 years ago
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Very good!

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pjt201 [101 posts] 2 years ago
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hear-hear.

[pedant](ps. subs, it's derring do)[/pedant]

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southseabythesea [150 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride for the space it clears in my head.

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Yorkshie Whippet [554 posts] 2 years ago
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Some Fella wrote:

Increasingly common exchange
Weekend warrior :"Morning"
Me : "Morning - lovely day"
WW: "Yep great - where you off to?"
Me: "Erm - i dont know - nowhere in particular. What about yourself?"
WW: "Well im doing the Bobby BigBollox Sportive in six weeks so im trying to get some big miles in - got to do another 60k before lunch or i lose my place on the Strava league"
Me: "Well i think im just going to stop here and look at this cow having a bath in a big puddle and maybe have a Cornetto - so ill see you later ok? Bye"
WW: Disappearing into the distance...... "You really should be wearing a helmet you know?"

Bloody brilliant!

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GoingRoundInCycles [133 posts] 2 years ago
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Triathlon/Cycling is the new golf. The middle management 'what's your handicap' bores have morphed into equipment-obsessed, Strava-waving dicks.

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700c [980 posts] 2 years ago
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Yes, there are a lot of 'epic challenges' about, many of which featured on this site, and I completely agree with the sentiment that sometimes it's good to just go out for a ride.That's what most of us do anyway..

I think what you're complaining about is perception, not reality. How cycling is portrayed in the media, and how much promotion these commercial sportive organisers do, to get people signed up, not to mention the charity events which receive huge publicity.

This has resulted in an increase in cycling exposure and popularity. On balance this is a good thing. So what if a middle aged fat guy wants to ride a 60 mile sportive? Good luck to him I say. 60 miles may not be epic to you, but might be to him. (not that I've ever seen a 60 mile event described as 'epic')

'just get out and ride' is a good sentiment. Cycling snobbery is not, however! I hope that's not what this is...

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mingmong [265 posts] 2 years ago
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Marvellous, just marvellous. Well written.

Freedom and pleasure.

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thepocpac [12 posts] 2 years ago
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What a great perspective on a nice sunny day perhaps that's all we need to clear our heads and get the endorphins moving.

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wilhay [71 posts] 2 years ago
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Good stuff Jo.. did you jus loose a KOM?

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jollygoodvelo [1540 posts] 2 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

What flavour of Cornetto?

These things are IMPORTANT.

(What's JV's favourite flavour? I may have to ask him on Twitter.)

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Simmo72 [617 posts] 2 years ago
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Best article in a long time.

I must admit to having been stressed for forgetting to start my garmin before setting off or being fixated watching my heart rate to keep it in zone 3 so much so that I miss the beautiful scenery around me......then I realise i'm being a plank and vow to go back to what I took up cycling for in the first place.

Looking back I recall my disdain at the thought of fitting an avocet, now look at us!

As for sportives, never ridden one, never intend to. If I want to ride an 'epic' ride I'll go and do so without parting with £25.....unless I hit the cake shop hard whilst taking a rest.

I still like to record my miles to see my own improvement.....or decline..... but I think the garmin mount is coming off and the back pocket is calling. Am I going 22 or 23 mph.....why do I care.....is my heart beating.....yes it is.

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twinklydave [27 posts] 2 years ago
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I have the same train of thought every time I realise I've forgotten my GPS too  3

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s_lim [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Simmo72 wrote:

I still like to record my miles to see my own improvement.....or decline..... but I think the garmin mount is coming off and the back pocket is calling. Am I going 22 or 23 mph.....why do I care.....is my heart beating.....yes it is.

I like Strava for this, and like seeing the gradual changes as form dips and rises. However, it's all recorded on the phone in the back pocket, and my stem is clutter-free; every ride in the last 3 months has been done on feel alone.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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Spent most of last year just relying on the phone to log rides, I do like to keep track of where I have been, I don't really care about how fast or any of that side of things. Just managed to have the phone flat on a few occasions and Amazon flogging Edge 500s for £90 means I now have one on the bike. Still don't really care what it says, but it does mean I can see the time easily.

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newbie roadie [12 posts] 2 years ago
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My last 2 rides have been on roads I have never rode before. All I have is a small page with a few notes jotted down for direction, stuffed into jersey pocket (so only a little planning required) The latter was the best ride I've ever had. The mileage was long (but that's not the point) and the scenery was immense. Over the toll bridge for free, witnessed the raw beauty of the swollen river beneath, and rode straight under a massive bird of prey, that watched me pass by from it's tree branch perch. Rolling fields under the rays of a rare sunshine. Does this count for 'just a ride'....man I love cycling!

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racyrich [272 posts] 2 years ago
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We used to define 'epic' bike days as ones that only had 2 changes of clothes. Pyjamas to bike kit and back again.

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Dizzy [68 posts] 2 years ago
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