Cycling for Pleasure

By Lou Borgenicht

My personal trainer calls me an unrepentant recreationalist. I love to play tennis, golf, fly fish and cycle but I truly do not care whether I win or lose. I enjoy whatever I am doing without expectation. I usually do not win; when I do I laugh.

I learned this from my father. My brother and I would play tennis with him and when he made a good shot he would laugh. It was better than gloating or exclaiming appreciation at one of our mistakes. Just a heartfelt laugh.

A number of years ago someone coined the phrase, “Cycling is the new golf”, probably born of the notion that the demographics of each sport were similar. I took up cycling years before I deigned to swing a golf club, largely because my wife had become and avid cyclist.

Once, shortly after I had bought a Bianchi cyclocross bike (I wanted more contact with the road than a traditional road bike offered and the Bianchi had slightly wider studded tires), we went for a ride in Kamas, Utah. Pastoral farmland, longhorn cattle, horses, sheep, llamas and leaning barns. I was entranced by the bucolic scene and found myself trailing my wife by a quarter of a mile. When I caught up with her she exclaimed, “You are like Ferdinand.”

I laughed. She was right. Ferdinand was a placid bull from a children’s book. When the picadors went search fierce bulls for the corrida Ferdinand would just sit calmly and smell the flowers. That was OK by me. I enjoyed myself.

In the ensuing years I noticed that I never passed anyone on a bike on any ride; they always passed me. But no matter. I am just not competitive.

My competitive side is vicarious. I assiduously watch bike races on TV. There is something captivating about watching the dynamics of the peloton and the breakaway riding through gorgeous countryside, kind of akin to my Ferdinand nature. Having come to know the various riders over the years it is easy to root for favorites and wonder with incredulity about the unexpected.

Peter Sagan, a heretofore, relatively unknown Slovakian rider, took five unprecedented stages in the Amgen Tour of California. Mark Cavendish was riding in the Giro d’Italia (unavailable to me this year on Comcast) and will likely meet Sagan in the Tour de France (June 30th start). Should be spine tingling.

I will be glued to the TV for twenty days much to my wife’s chagrin and will be careful not to talk to anyone who might know about the race until I have seen it. It could ruin my day, but it is nothing a leisurely bike ride can’t cure.

 

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