Robot’s Useless Reviews – The Future

I’m disappointed, if I’m honest, that you even clicked on this one. You should not concern yourself with the future. As a tense, it is only marginally preferrable to the past, whose sins we at least have memory of. But humanity maintains a fervent and misguided hope the future will become knowable, that we will clear the mists of the crystal ball and see what’s to come with 20/20 foresight, and that this knowledge will settle our racing minds.

Do we really want to know what’s coming? I’d wager not.

Those of you prone to anxiety will have misgivings about this. You find yourself too often tangled in the wreckage of the future and too eager to slip its hold on your fevered imaginings. This is one of those baby-with-the-bathwater problems though. Knowing the future spells the end of all imagining. It is the ultimate and most categorical spoiler. Your issue isn’t a preoccupation with the future. It’s with your inability to imagine anything other than catastrophe. Try writing some haiku. There just aren’t enough syllables in those for very much to go wrong.

Enjoyed the show? Get the t-shirt!

How does our fixation on the future negatively affect our riding lives?

First and foremost, expectations, the foot soldiers of the future, can ruin anything. Maybe you expect a ride to be bad, so you don’t open yourself to the positive parts of the experience. Maybe you expect a ride to be good, so you chafe when things don’t go as you’d hoped. To paraphrase virtually every wise cyclist ever, “Shut up and pedal,” with the heavy implication that every ride has something to recommend it, even if that’s just a long coffee break somewhere in the middle.

Further, we should not be thinking about what bike is about to come out, or even worse, will come out next season. Think instead of new technology like waves that have not yet reached shore. Awfully hard to surf them in advance, and in the meantime, there are the waves swelling beneath us. We should be wary of an improvement upon what we’ve already got, because we have everything we need already.

The question you want to be asking really is, “Why am I not riding my bike right now?”

Oh, sure. Maybe it’s the middle of the night (I’ve done it), or you’re in the middle of a work meeting (waste of time), but generally speaking you should be riding in the present tense rather than the future tense, the latter being a necessary but pale imitation of the former. I’m a big fan of daydreaming, but even I need to get off my ass and put a chamois on it more often. It solves so many of my (imagined) problems.

The flip side of my facile formula is that we should remain positively curious about the future. We should be eager to find out what is going to happen, but it’s best to cultivate that curiosity while in motion so that it takes the form of questions like, “Where does that trail go?” or “I wonder how fast I can ride this hill?” or even “Will anyone notice if I just drop out of this Zoom call?”

Don’t take my word for it. Shimano wants you to leave time behind too!

Join the conversation
  1. keen_brian says

    This is too good! Y’all have a great day!

  2. James Lyon-Hall says

    One of the parts of cycling that I enjoy the most is how it allows us to see into the future. When I see a crest in the road ahead, I know (barring unfortunate circumstance) that sometime in the not too distant future, if I keep pedaling, I will be at that crest, which will then allow me to see a new future that I hadn’t been able to see until I reached that point. On and on it goes….

  3. schlem says

    “Why am I not riding my bike right now?”
    There is no good answer. Only sloth and unpleasant meteorology. And I have piles of foul weather kit. Which brings me back to sloth.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      I feel you, Schlem. I feel you.

  4. TominAlbany says

    Why am I not riding my bike?
    This Helluva Good French Onion Dip ain’t gonna eat itself!

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