Finding Inspiration to Ride

I watched the movie “Inspired to Ride” this week.  It documents the 2014 edition of the Trans Am Bike Race, which starts in Oregon, covers 10 states and 4300 miles and finishes in Virginia.  The race is self supported, so cyclists must carry their own clothing, tools, sleeping bag, food, drink (although they can stop at shops to buy things).

This is from the Trans Am webpage:

Spirit: Above all, attempts are intended to be solo / self-supported, self-timed, and observed as one stage, i.e. the clock runs non-stop. The challenge is complete upon arrival to the opposite Trans Am terminus from start. There are no required checkpoints or designated rest periods on course. There is no finish time cut-off!

Modus operandi: To complete the Route, a rider may resupply food / equipment, rent a room, launder clothing, even service their bike at commercial shops along the way. The intent is to ride unsupported between towns, and function self-supported when in towns. Any services utilized must always be commercially available to all challengers and not pre-arranged. No private resupply, no private lodging.

Oh and this: Rule #1: No complaining about the rules.

As I watched, I was amazed at the determination of these cyclists.  They might sleep 3 or 4 hours a night.  They might stop for a meal as they pass through a small town or at a local bike shop to get a chain fixed.  But beyond that, they’re riding.  The fastest riders completed the race in 17-18 days, or over 400 km/day!  In 2014, the final finisher took 116 days – nearly 4 months.

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Inspired to Ride – the Trans Am bike route across the USA.

The movie got me thinking about inspiration as it pertains to cycling.  What motivates people to get on their bike?

My inspiration has evolved over the years.  I’ve had a bike as long as I can remember but my first significant bike was an old charcoal-coloured Bianchi I purchased in Toronto in 1984 (I still have it!).  I didn’t know much about cycling but me and my friend Tom would ride from our homes in Scarborough out to the Toronto Zoo.  The hills in the Rouge Valley seemed huge and I remember riding up one climb and nearly passing out in the grass at the side of the road when I got to the top.  I got my first mountain bike – a hand-me down from my bro Jeff.  It was a GT, that I later replaced in 1992 with another GT.  We mountain biked around Dundas Valley with bro Greg, since we were all getting into the sport around the same time.  Around this time, cycling was more of a pastime than a fitness activity as I was still playing a lot of hockey for fitness.

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Mountain biking at Dundas Valley 1992 with bros. They took off on me already…

In 2002, I got my first suspension mountain bike, a Kona. We (my two brothers and some friends and I) started to enter events.  Paris to Ancaster, Lake-to-Lake, and 24 and 8 hour relay events (My first 24-hour mountain bike relay experience is still on the web here).  Immersion into the cycling world commenced and I started to ride for fitness (and to keep in shape for hockey over the summer).  Soon after that, I bought a new road bike (actually it was used…a Cannondale) and joined the road rides with the Waterloo Cycling Club.  Mountain biking was still my passion and I saw road riding as a way to build fitness for mountain bike events.  My inspiration came from the desire to get better, faster and fitter.  As I got more involved in cycling, my interest in playing hockey started to fade and although I was still playing, I now looked at hockey as cross training for my new passion of cycling.

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Chicos 24 Hours of Summer Solstice – 2003 – note the big camelbak!

In the past few years, my inspiration has come from seeking out new challenges.  I don’t feel like I need to be fast, but I still want to be fit and healthy.  I’m now at the point where I’d rather go for a long scenic ride than a fast-paced club ride.  This is my motivation for my 50 memorable rides in my 50th year goal, and it has included my first 200 km ride and many other “new” or “interesting” rides.

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Always drafting… my first 200 km ride this summer!

Some people I know get inspiration from results in O-Cups, or moving from Group 4 to Group 3 on club rides.  Others are inspired by learning new skills like riding over that log at the Hydrocut that they used to walk over.  Or entering a race or event in a new discipline like cyclocross (this is still on my…. “maybe some day” list).

I’ll start a list of “reasons to ride”:

  • fitness/health
  • support of a charity
  • stress relief
  • scenery/exploration
  • camaraderie
  • kudos/KOMs/QOMs on Strava
  • good for the enviroment

What motivates you?

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