How many times have you been in an argument and someone’s said,
“But I read…”
and used the fact that they read something to mean it must be true?
Back in our school days, textbooks were infallible and the printed word was Law.
And it lingers, this assumption that if it’s written down, it’s true. The reality of the internet means, however, that if it’s written down, it’s because someone has time on their hands. Truth does not come into it.
I’m not anti-internet and there’s a lot of really good sites out there (like the one you’re on now, of course!) but it’s hard, when you’re a newbie, to sort the dross from the gold and nothing is a substitute for experiencing it yourself.
So what’s all this got to do with cycling? Apart from the hours I’ve spent reading forums when I could have been having fun out on the bike…
It’s to do with the information out there, and even when it is accurate, who it’s aimed at.
For example, when I was commuting from Morecambe to Lancaster on a 6-speed shopper, I started to get chain problems. I hopped onto the internet to find out why my chain came off whenever I freewheeled downhill.
I was flattened when I stumbled into the wrong forum and read the sneering reply of
“why would you be freewheeling downhill? Don’t. Keep pedalling, keep your speed up and it gets the lactic acid out of your muscles so you can attack the next hill more effectively.”
Why would I be freewheeling downhill? Uh…cos it’s fun…?
To read some forums and websites, you’d think that primary aim of cycling is to make grown men cry. If you’re not vomiting with
exertion, you’re not doing it right. It’s quite intimidating.
I haven’t joined a cycling club and that’s because I really don’t think I’ll keep up. People blether on about their average speeds and I know that mine is about 12 mph. The only time I managed a steady 18mph over a 20 mile distance was on the flat. But I’ve succumbed to the stuff on the web that tells me a “decent club rider will maintain 18-20mph.” There’s a little voice in my head that tells me I’d be fine. But…I read it…so it must be true.
Even more terrifying are The Rules. (http://www.velominati.com/
When I was just getting into cycling, and managing a four-mile commute, I read a throwaway remark by a triathlete friend on Facebook. It was along the lines of
“it’s not worth getting out on the bike for an 8-mile ride.”
I was crushed. It wasn’t even aimed at me, and bearing in mind she’s completed two Ironman competitions, I shouldn’t have taken it to heart. But it’s hard not to compare yourself to others.
There’s so much training advice out there but if you get sucked into reading it, please please please take it with a pinch of salt. Ask yourself who it’s really aimed at. Put it into the context of your own development. Is that bloke who told you to go out and do hill reps three times a week really qualified to advise you?
Ultimately, I think you’ll learn a lot more being out on your bike than sitting at your computer reading about being on your bike.
What are you waiting for…?
by Autumn Barlow