I was crouched down trying to find the best angle around Joe’s shoe. His leg twisted so that I could reach the zip on his overshoes. I was squeezing the two sides of the overshoe together so that the zip would move upwards with more ease. Suddenly, it zipped up and I moved on to the next one.
I laughed as I said to him: ‘You don’t see this being instagrammed, do you?’
It made me think about all the moments around cycling that aren’t so beautiful. We spend most of our time talking, documenting and obsessing over the magical details that make the sport so appealing. The beautiful details that silence the mind.
However, with sport comes great opposites. Whether that’s the up to the down of a hill, or the high to the low of our emotional spectrum. As well as the winding empty road and the next flat white waiting to be poured, there are also parts of a cycling life that aren’t glamorous. I’m not talking about the pain. As cyclists, we often reference pain as one of the many beauty spots on the face of the sport. I’m referencing the really boring parts. The somewhat tedious tasks that aren’t talked about much and the moments you certainly won’t find on instagram feeds. I think it’s important to list these out, especially for those who are just getting into riding. You’re not alone. Behind every landscape image, there’s always a cyclist who is on her third lycra wash load of the week.
1. Washing lycra every day. This is slightly dramatic, but it sure does feel like a day doesn’t go by where I’m not prioritising the lycra load over the lights.
2. The forehead spots. The unwanted cousin of helmet hair and the unfortunate side-effect that a few pro riders have also spoken out about.
3. Trying to get overshoes on. For them to be effective in their role, they need to be snug. Getting them on and off is more of a work-out than the little black dress/jeans dance.
4. Post winter shower. During the winter, you return from a ride so cold that the shower that follows feels like all the stones you cycled over are being thrown back at you.
5. The banana back pocket gate. There’s a silent phenomena that often causes me to pack a banana for a ride but never eat it. For the few times I do reach out for it, I’m greeted with a soft mush that reminds me why nearly every gadget shop now offers the ‘banana bag’.
6. Oil moisturiser. When you pump your tyres or just move your bike, black oil appears from nowhere. Staying with you like the stamp on your hand after a night out.
7. Spending money on lights instead of shoes. Lezyne over Louboutins.
8. Raiding the fridge after a ride. Then crashing on the couch. In all sorts of pain.
9. Constantly getting changed. The glam few in the world are known for multiple costume changes in one night. Unfortunately shimmying into lycra for the commute twice a day doesn’t come with a changing room fit with a light bulb framed mirror or paparazzi telling the world 'Model wears Rapha'.
10. The cycle-bug. As well as catching the bug to ride more, you may often catch the one that lives in your stomach. The constant leg repetition, eating whilst moving and coffee drinking can sometimes cause a painful stomach. To quote Rapha, it's 'glory through suffering'.
We make daily decisions based on a combination of emotion and logic.
Logic may tell us that another ride isn’t needed this week because fabric softener is getting expensive. But, too soon, we know we’ll miss the emotional extremities that deciding to be a cyclist brings.
Thankfully, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. So despite the above list, our eyes see differently and will continue to fall in love with every aspect of the sport that would ride most people away. Spots, stomach bugs, and all.