(Note: I know that I declared this blog dead, but this seemed a more fitting final entry.)
It’s a real song! Really. It’s from some Broadway musical, I think. Don’t mock me, Perry the Platypus.
525,600 is the number of minutes that make up a year. And, that’s the number of minutes since I last rode a bike: 8:20 AM on 4 May 2010. Prior to that, about 15 short rides gets me back to 21 October 2009. (Yes, I keep records like that.)
I asked some time ago of anyone willing to listen on Twitter (@kevintcom) and Facebook just how long one could go without straddling a bike and still consider one’s self a cyclist. I was hoping for insight, but found that no one really cares about that kind of introspection. So, I’ll have to come up with my own answers.
First, I realize that I’ve extended the useful life of all of my cycling apparel and gear by one full year. I’ll pull out some jerseys and socks that have barely been work when next I find myself riding. That’s a good thing, right? The tires that I bought for 2010 still have the manufacturing nubs on them.
However, that doesn’t answer the question. It simply delays the discussion.
I’ve forgotten most of what I had learned about bike commuting. I know that I will need to take some stuff to work to clean up after a ride, and plan outfits for the days that I will commute, but the effort of planning that has returned to a level of difficulty similar to when I first tried to commute. I need to take a lock, too, I think. Hmm…
Again, doesn’t really answer the question, but I think that I’m getting closer.
You know, a few years ago when I was able to really drop some kilos off my body I had a good off-season fitness program in which I would get up daily for a dose of NordicTrack aerobic fat burning. I’ve not gotten to that this year. I have done the occasional few minutes on the AbSlide (yes, I do own one) and some squats to pretend that I’m exercising. However, it’s easier to just use the morning to catch up on all of my other projects and pretend that I still have months to get myself in shape. I’m pretty sure that I don’t have “legs” right now. I’m also pretty sure that my lungs and heart will balk at my first sustained effort. Oh, and don’t get me started about how my butt will feel after the first mile. You don’t want to know, and neither do I.
So, am I still a cyclist? Still avoiding the question.
In 2006, after riding thousands of miles, I was told that I wasn’t in shape to “race” the LOTOJA Classic. That same year I also was told by someone who completed it previously that after that year, she didn’t ride much for the next year. I definitely cut back in 2007, but I kept riding. Was this finally my rebound year from the efforts five years ago? What about if I still think about cycling? Does that count as “being” a cyclist? What about if I’ve done maintenance on the bikes this year? Does that count?
Maybe I’m not a cyclist. Wow, that’s a change. Is that right? Am I a cyclist as long as other people consider me to be that? If I’m not a cyclist, then what am I now?
I still haven’t answered the question, have I?
Wait, I’m averaging just under one ride per month for the past 18 months. As long as I don’t clarify that those all happened between 7 April and 4 May, I might be able to confuse people enough that they don’t (and therefore I don’t have to) ask the question. Oops, I just blew that chance. So, I’ve essentially ridden one of the past 18 months. Am I still a cyclist?
Bob “Bobke” Roll told me once (yes, I did talk to him personally) that he had not ridden a bike for a month. He’s still a cyclist. Of course, I’ve not started one Tour de France, or provided commentary on a single bike race, or had a fabled career like he has had. And, it’s been a year, not a month.
How do I define myself?
I still listen to cycling podcasts. Does that make me a vicarious cyclist? I’ll be auctioning off bicycle tune-up services for a charity auction coming up. Does that mean that I’m a bike mechanic now?
Maybe it’s time to let myself be defined into another group. I could be a waterskier. I could resign all ambition and simply define myself as a dad. There’s just not as much press to follow on that front, or as many competitions to revel in vicariously. And don’t ask your kids to valid feedback. They’ll either rate you the best of all time, or the worst ever. There’s not much in between.
So, after those 525,600 minutes am I still a cyclist? And, even more, does it matter?