I've been thinking back to when I had injured my hand; I couldn’t hold my handlebars and I needed to find another way to get my endorphin fix. I’ve been running off and on for years, but this was the first time that it was my sole (pun) source of exercise and trail time.
We all know that you can burn more calories running in a short time and that running promotes bone health better than cycling, but it wasn’t the physiological aspects that caused this revelation, it was just the beautiful simplicity of the sport.
This first hit me one Sunday, when I went out for a long run. I decided to hit one of my favorite trail networks and on my way out the door I suddenly realized that I didn’t need to load my running shoes onto my car-rack. No straps, no bungee cords, nothing – I was wearing everything I needed.
The next reality check came when I took off from the trail head. If I had followed along with my traditional mountain biker mentality, I would have had extra shoe-laces, a spare sock and some “Shoe-Goo” with me.
See what I’m getting at? No helmet, no pump, no tube, no chain tool, no multi-tool... I felt so light. I didn’t have to mess around with tire pressure, shock sag, mis-shifting gears, rubbing disc brakes or anything else like that either. I just stretched and took off running.
But wait, there’s more. When I got back to my car – and this is the best part, I just got in and drove home. Again, no gear, no hassles. I was almost giddy.
The contrast between running and cycling is illustrated even better when you consider what we, as cyclists, do when we travel out of state to a race or event. A couple of years ago my wife and I went to a mountain bike race in Florida and we figured it would be easier to ship the bikes down ahead of time. UPS lost our bikes and we lost our vacation. On other trips we've brought the bikes with us on the plane but we're nailed with big fees, and we also had to box the bikes up, carry the giant bike boxes all over the airport, rent a car big enough to accommodate the bikes, do something with the boxes upon arrival, put the bikes together and then we had to reverse the whole process for the flight home. We've rented bikes on some trips and we've eliminated the airline bike fee (more on that another time), but it's still a hassle.
Meanwhile, a buddy of mine who went to Florida for the Disney Marathon had everything he needed in his carry-on.
It’s just not fair!
I started to consider what my life would be like without bikes. First off, I’d have A LOT more money and much more room in my basement. I wouldn't need giant tool boxes full of stuff to swap out shoe laces or replace my orthotics, and I wouldn't be spending an afternoon setting up a new pair of shoes or adjusting the heel cup... I'd have more time, more money, more space in my house...
I thought my life was about to change, but then my hand started feeling better.
As soon as I could wrap some fingers around the handlebar, I was on the trails. It was so much fun and I knew that I could never give up on riding.
I've tried to find simplicity in my mountain biking... riding to/from the trails when possible to eliminate the car aspect and my "go-to" bike is a fully rigid single speed so I eliminate shifting and suspension problems.
Running might be logistically easier, but there's no way it can compare to catching a little bit of air or ripping through bermed turns and to me, that makes the extra work worthwhile.