A follow-on to the Bike Monkey story –
I guess I just miss the time when riding and racing bikes was simple. It was something you just went out and did. All of this ancillary bullshit like online rankings and MapMyRide leaderboards and Strava KOMs didn’t exist. People weren’t out riding their faces off every single trip out the door in an effort to outdo someone they weren’t even riding with. They didn’t obsess over their finish because it was going to impact the start of the next. You were getting outside for the sake of getting outside. There was appreciation for the simplicity of the endeavor. A tube and a pump and a few bucks, and off you go. Wherever it took you. However you did.
I understand the purpose of a mechanism like Crossresults, but I hate when people allow something like this to become the arbiter of their experience. I’ve been there; in fact, I threw a whole heap of time away racing way over my head, catering to its output. But it’s only a seeding mechanism. That’s the end of it. Where it places you in the context of race, before this one or the one after, is only as important as you decide it is. If you’re an amateur racer, it shouldn’t mean much of anything. It’s a video game score. What should mean something is the fact that you’re getting out of the house and having a good time.
Strava, the same thing. If you want to let it determine how hard you ride, that’s fine, and that’s kind of what it’s for. When you have that thing running on your iPhone, you feel like you constantly need to be on your game. Out on the road by yourself, you never shake these invisible competitors breathing down your neck. That’s the irrefutable training benefit of this technology. But when it pervades recreational riding, the benefit has turned against you. It’s not a tool for blowing off your friends mid-ride to conquer some arbitrary section of earth. And if it’s in any way driving you to do something horribly stupid like descend a dangerous road as fast as possible, you’ve lost sight of a whole shitload of things.
I respect the engineering that makes these technologies possible, and I’m hardly disputing their utility, but their purpose should be very narrow. I just want us to ride again. I want it to be like when I was ten, riding for the prospect of buying a Gatorade at a village store. Or lining up to race the bike leg of a triathlon on a mountain bike because you were fourteen and it’s all you had and it didn’t matter.