The Conditions

On any given day in any given place there are a set of conditions, and at the same time, your conditions for immersing yourself in those conditions. For example, in February in the Southern part of New England, the conditions normally include wet sand, and one of my conditions for going out for a ride might be, “I’ll ride all day as long as I don’t come home covered in wet sand again.”

Great care and consideration must be given to both sets of conditions, not to mention a possible third set, which is the condition of your body although we can probably just wrap those conditions into the broader set of problems that is, frankly, you. Oh, and yeah, there’s probably a fourth set, also condensable with the second set, which is social. This might look something like, “Hey, is Jerry gonna be there? Yeah? Then I’m out.”

Poor Jerry.

What I find, despite my frequent assembly of disqualifying conditions, is that I’m pretty much always better off just going anyway. The external conditions, the wind, the temperature, the precipitation, are rarely as bad as I have convinced myself they will be. And the rest? I mean, I have ways of dealing with wet sand, and Jerry isn’t that bad. He’s doing his best, like the rest of us.

It’s a shame, really, that there are ever any good days on the bike, by which I mean, the randomized coincidence of ideal conditions, of weather, of willingness, of friends and time, that plant unrealistic ideas in our minds of what bike riding should be. Virtually all of our conditions are predicated on a possible disappointment that the state of play would ever vary from the ideal.

Variety, as the saying goes, is the spice of life, and so variation in the conditions might be a good thing. It bears saying, though, that I really don’t like some spices. They’re bitter, some of them. Others taste like dirt. Many of them, even the good ones, don’t go together at all, so let’s save ourselves the platitudes.

Here is what I have learned over many years of facing all manner of conditions, both external and internal. Few of them actually impinge on the pleasure of riding a bike. Most of them may be ignored either in part or in whole. You can dress better. You can have a better attitude. You can suspend judgement until sometime later, and at that point, having ridden, you are overwhelmingly likely to have decided the ride was not a waste of time, that it was, in truth, fun or valuable in some other way.

It is not necessary to fetishize suffering or to always be riding for catharsis. It is only necessary to admit as few conditions to the negotiation as possible, and to understand that the overwhelming body of evidence suggests you ought to shut up and ride.

Join the conversation
  1. Pat Navin says

    Beautifully stated, Robot. I should have read this earlier today when I was concocting an excuse for not riding: “It’s too windy.”

    I’m in Santa Barbara, for fuck’s sake (is that right?). “Shut up and ride.”

    Okay. I’ll go out tomorrow, regardless. I useed to ride in -2 F and love it.

  2. alanm9 says

    Yeah, I blew it too. I’m in my car outside the doctors office (routine) but could have / should have ridden to the appointment. But, rain forecasted. Crap, it barely wetted the road.

    There’s always an excuse not to ride, so ride. Wish I could remember that.

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