I Have a Stupid Question

I’ve had a subscription to Bicycling magazine for a couple of years now. I’ll admit to feeling a brief sense of euphoria whenever it appears in my mailbox. But my subscription expires with the present issue (March 2011), and it’s not a moment too soon. Lemme splain…

Flipping through in my customary pre-read-perusal (think of it as window shopping, or taste-testing, or surveying the course before the next day’s stage — whatever), I turn to page 26, where the “Coach” department, supposedly authored by none other than Mr. Chris Carmichael himself, is responding to this month’s question, submitted by Jonathan [“Fred”] Edwards, who writes, “I recently bought a new bike. How do I become a cyclist?”

It’s true; I tell my students nearly every day that there are no stupid questions. But that is, in fact, a bald-faced lie. There are stupid questions, and the one above is probably one of the best examples ever.

Mr. Carmichael (or some under-paid and unacknowledged staff writer working on his behalf), of course, managed to find around 500 words, an image, and even a nifty little graph that charts “The Simple Way To Go Hard,” for his response. To be sure, the author gave proper lip service to “riding for fun, fitness, competition or transportation,” and “step 1” was “Just Ride”. But it wasn’t long before we had arrived at “Step 3” and the addition of intervals.

I’m really not opposed to any of this, per se. I certainly enjoying riding hard, whether that means trying to go fast or to go far. But Bicycling just really cracks me up sometimes. I realize their target audience is anyone who has $4.95 (or whatever the newsstand price is) in their pocket and nothing better to do with it. Granted, every reader (myself included), in one way or another, fancies herself or himself in some alternate Lycra-clad, world-traveling, mountain-climbing, podium-standing, Pinarello-riding, flat-belly-sporting and skinny-jean-wearing reality with every color glossy page they turn. But, come on; writing in to ask how to become a cyclist? Really?

Just get on your bike and ride.



6 responses to “I Have a Stupid Question

  1. Looks like the winter doldrums have gotten the best of said magazine.

  2. Man it takes all kinds…..

    People always over think stuff. Like you said, Just get on your bike and ride. Sure I like going fast and working hard at times but the only goal I have in mind when I ride is to have fun and see the world like not many people see it.

  3. Just get on your bike and ride. I agree completely. Yes, I still have a Bicycling subscription, but I find less and less of it relevant to the overall potential non-motorized transportation population! I value my Bicycle Times and Momentum subscriptions far more than the “Fred” and snob magazine that Bicycling has evolved over the past decade. Reviewing $500 wheel sets or $2000 bicycles is not going to change our culture and get more of the population moving without direct fossil fuels….

    Ok, rant is over….. but seriously, spread the “regular Joe / Jane / Julie / Johnny” gospel of two wheels and no petrol whenever you can. And do it for cheap at your local friendly Re-Bicycle Lenawee co-op!

    PS: Found my personal dream re-bicycle: a Miyata Triple Cross for $80 and clean as a whistle. Literally ridden by a little old man in metro Detroit. I’ll bring it to the shop on Saturday.

  4. Buy-cycling is not even close to one of my favorite cycling magazines…

  5. Wait a second, so let me get this straight, someone actually knows the answer this question! All this time, I’ve just been winging it you know. I’ve been getting on my bike and pressing my legs down in alternating fashion which on most days produces forward motion. Since I’ve had success with this approach up to this point I’ve been trying to repeat it as often as I can. Huh! I bet you $4.95 I’ve been doing it all wrong.

  6. Paul H Downs

    Always felt being a cyclist had nothing to do with level of training or endurance but only that you threw a leg over the frame and enjoyed yourself.