After spending some time on my bike I felt that something’s not right. I raced to work, because everyone seemed to be racing (well what do you do dressed up in lycra on a road bike – you race), I arrived sweaty and had to do the superman thing (change in the loo). I had to carry all my stuff (additional clothes for instance) in my bagpack (which made my back wet). By that time I’ve been reading a lot about cycling and even something about riding a bike (also called utility cycling) and decided I need an overhaul. It didn’t happen overnight – first I started wearing normal shorts instead of lycra ones, then ditched the helmet and jerseys in favour of a cap (good for when it rains) and t-shirts (longsleeves for cold mornings). I installed a rack on my road bike in an effort to make it more utilitarian, and now carry my bag on it, so my back stays dry. I also stopped racing to work – I leave 10 minutes earlier, I travel at 20-24km/h and get to work dry and relaxed.
I remember when I first bought my bike I had a list of things I wanted to buy and on it I had – spd shoes and pedals, deep v rims and so on and on. I thought I needed them because of people on a forums bragging about upgrading their bikes to make them faster. Sort of like boy racers on the streets of London, bragging about their super loud exhaust on their corsa and 1000W sound system. You know the type.
Then I realised that the bike has to be a utility first, a tool that allows me to do things, independent of public transport and cars. As I wanted to take my son to different parks I bought a child trailer – brilliant thing. We go to the local supermarket to do shopping together (around 2 miles away from where we live) – he’s riding in the trailer (until he’s big enough to raid a trailabike) and then we pack all the bags in it and take it home – this I find to be the bicycle at it’s best – not racing.
Also while cars and trains are a mean of transport, riding a bike is an adventure on its own to me. I don’t need to rush on my bike to get somewhere, because I enjoy the ride already. Try it – you might be surprised.