Tales from the Tarmac | You’re Doing it Wrong

I hate to break it to you, but if you regularly blot the non-existant grease off your quinoa burger patty (forget about the bun…carbs…duh!) in hopes of getting down to some mythical race weight, if you turn down a beer with friends after work because of some race you have in six weeks you are most definitely doing this whole bike riding thing entirely wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I love racing. There’s something to be said for ripping your own legs off in the hopes of doing the same to others. The primal rush of pushing yourself to the brink only to do it again, and again and again borders on a euphoria that’s simply unmatched.

It also sucks.

Pain is in endless supply, tempers are thin, egos are thick. Crashing is only slightly less inevitable than the agony sure to be bestowed upon your body just after the gun goes off. Wheezing like an asthmatic for hours after a particularly hard-fought saddle battle is the sign of a job well done, only superceded by uncontrollable dry-heaving and muscle cramping erupting seconds after crossing the finish line.

Simply put, racing, as us cyclcists know it in the traditional sense is serious business. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And, more importantly, it shouldn’t always be that way.

Enter the 2014 Tour de Donut. Started as a low-key exercise in one-upmanship amongst friends in college, it has since grown into a larger event, bringing in a vast array of cyclists (and non-cyclists) from the local San Luis Obispo community.

By definition, it’s a race, but it’s far from serious.

Okay, well, the rules may be serious; the basic premise is anything but.

Stage One: Embark on a leisurely tour of the city’s three fine donut producers. Stop at each one, pausing to eat as many donuts as a rider dares. A tally is kept, a 15 second time bonus awarded for each donut.

Stage Two: Head out on a two-mile uphill time trial, whose ascent averages over 10-percent.

Does this add up to an exercise in stupidity? Quite possibly. A great way to spend a Saturday with friends and meeting fellow cyclists in the community? Indubitably.

So, while many donuts made a second appearance at the conclusion of the time trial, instead of being met with full-body cramping, they were met with a hearty dose of laughter, a noseful of partially digested sprinkles and a pat on the back. Were judging looks given by passing cars? Yes. Was a fun time had by all? Most definitely. But was the sense of accomplishment and post-race high as intense as that experienced after a hard-fought criterium? Most definitely not.

So that being said, let me impart you with this little nugget: Regardless of which side of the fence you reside on, I can almost guarantee that you’re doing it wrong.

Racers, remember to mix it up and have some fun once in a while, break away from the chains of the ever-powerful Training Plan and screw off on a bike for a few hours—you’d be amazed at how well suited a bike is for it.

Conversely, for the casual cyclist, hop in a local race or sportive and give it everything you’ve got. The bike can be a powerful ally in finding exactly what our bodies are capable of, and can change our outlook on what we can accomplish by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

The bike is an awesome tool. Don’t pigeonhole its powers. Quit doing it wrong.