Your bike doesn’t care how you ride it. It has no feelings on the subject, and anyone else who might have thoughts or feelings about your riding are just static on the radio. Almost no one listens to the radio anymore. To clarify what I’m talking about, let me just say a few things about you and how you ride, recognizing that I too, am probably just static.
It’s ok if you don’t clip in. A willingness to be mechanically attached to your pedals is not a marker of seriousness or worthiness. It’s not a skill you have to learn. It’s not a magic ticket that gets you into some exclusive club.
It’s ok if you don’t ride in the drops. Put your hands where they feel good. Don’t stress your back. Don’t stress yourself. Dropbars have a funny shape. Not funny ha-ha either.
It’s ok if you can’t ride a wheelie. I can’t. Riding a wheelie is a circus trick, albeit a really cool one. But it doesn’t mean anything about your bike handling skills or, again, your seriousness. I can’t juggle either.
It’s ok if you don’t jump. If you ride mountain bikes (or other), you don’t have to leave the ground. If you’d prefer not to live that risk, that’s fine. Discretion > valor. None of us gets to trade these little bits of skill for cash or prizes later.
It’s ok if you don’t ride for a long time. Someone told me that nothing good happens on a bike ride after two hours, and if you take Type 2 fun off the board, that may be right. Either way, you don’t have to rack up miles or hours in the saddle to achieve some sort of two-wheeled sainthood. That’s not a thing.
It’s ok if you don’t have matching kit, or any kit. We all love a costume, but you’re gonna be allowed into the party without one. Are you pedaling? Great. You look great.
It’s ok if you haven’t ridden a century. A mile is an arbitrary distance, 5,280 feet. It’s based on the length of 1,000 Roman paces, back when the Romans were running most of the world. 520,800 feet isn’t really the round number 100 miles suggests it might be. It’s a weird bar to think you have to clear. Do it if you want, I guess.
It’s ok if you don’t like riding dirt. Dirt is, by its nature, dirty, a think most of us eschew most of the time. As a riding surface, it is less predictable and normally impregnated by other, even less predictable surfaces like roots and rocks. If you prefer to keep the rubber side on the flattest, smoothest thing you can find, that’s NBD.
It’s ok if you’re nervous in traffic. You and your bike are soft and light. In the rare but not impossible chance of a collision between you and the other road users, it is likely you will lose. You’re not weird for not liking those odds. You’re hyper-rational.
It’s ok if you prefer to ride alone. The rest of us are awful.
It’s ok if your bike is old. Are the wheels round? Are the tires inflated? Do the pedals move the chain, and does that lead to the whole contraption rolling forward? Congratulations. You’re in.
It’s ok if none of the other riders looks like you. This is a hard one. We have been taught to distrust people who we suspect have not lived the same experience we have. Why? I don’t know. That’s not this site. What I will say to those who maybe haven’t seen themselves in an ad or article, and who also don’t see anyone else who looks like them on a bike in their local community, is that the bike doesn’t care at all what you look like. The bike loves you, and I do too.
It’s ok if you don’t watch the pros. Watching sports isn’t doing sports. Those are two different hobbies. Both valid. But different.
It’s ok if you ride an eBike. How you get where you’re going is none of our business, and in the hierarchy of moral goods, it might be true that two wheels are always better than four. I’m not trying to make this a bikes vs. cars thing, but if I was, I know who the eBikes would be with.
All this is ok, and plenty more. Maybe there will be a Part II, and III, and IV. Because really, it’s all ok. I promise.
Shimano is better than ok. They sponsor this website, because they’re outstanding.