A HALF-HEARTED REBUKE RE: SOULCYCLE ET AL. AND A PLEA TO RIDE A BIKE WITH WHEELS

I am not qualified to write this list because I've never been to a spin class. I ride my bike outside instead, I want you to as well.
  1. FIRST OFF, I'd like to say that I get it. At least I think I do. There are plenty of decent reasons to like going to a spin class instead of riding a real bike.
    An incomplete list in no order: Not having to buy a real bike, nor maintain or store it, it is safe[r] (re: cars, crashes, misc), it is a short commitment easier to fit into a busy day, groups are better for motivation, it doesn't matter how dark it is, you don't get flat tires, you get to listen to Katy Perry's Fireworks still, you get to wear tank tops with skulls or whatever on them, it's easier to schedule with your friends, it's fun, it's a challenge, it's healthy, you like it, etc etc etc.
  2. Like I said, all good reasons. And honestly anybody mashing pedals is good in my book. If you're one of the Soulcycle junkies who has never touched a real road bike, I am stoked for you.
  3. BUT
  4. When I ask you if you're a cyclist, don't tell me "I go to SoulCycle". That's like saying you know New York State really well because you've been to Syracuse.
  5. BUT SERIOUSLY
  6. I want you to try cycling. Like on a bike. On a road (or trail! but road is what your Holodeck-cycling is most like). My attempt to convince you starts now.
    First I will try to convince you nicely, then rationally, and the lastly via multimedia.
  7. NICELY:
  8. Please? Pretty much everyone I know gets over the big fears real fast (cars don't come that close, falling doesn't hurt as bad as you think, if a car does hit you it just means you get a new bike and settlement cash).
  9. Here's the thing about cycling of all disciplines: it gives you these moments of accomplishment and reflection and pride that are very tangible. There are small pieces of simple beauty sprinkled like confetti in between all the sweat and work and suffering.
  10. A lot of this confetti doesn't make it onto a stationary bike. Let me tell you some of my favorites.
  11. When you're gassed after pushing pushing pushing for a PR on a long country road rolling through dairies and verdant hills and the gray blanket of fog, and you pull over at the next stop sign to eat something and decide how you want to head home. You're out of breath and double over resting your elbows on the bars...
    and let the bike lean to the right until you feel the cold stickiness of the chain ring rub against the inside of your right calf. You pull it away only to find the tell tale shape of the chain ring teeth stamped in grease on the inside of your calf. Later, at home, taking too much hot water in the shower because it makes your legs feel better, you try half heartedly to scrub it off. You give up, because it looks cool and it makes you smile.
  12. It's hotter than you all expected for your morning group ride, and your hungover friend has killed both of his bottles when you're not even 1/2 way through the ride. You're five minutes from the next small climb and they're pretty much melting. You pull your second bottle that has hydration mix in it...
    sit up and pull a few sips from it, and reach it across to your friend without saying anything. They take a pull and hand it back, you take another and then close the bottle by shoving it against your bottle side hip and put it back in the cage. "Thanks". "No sweat." They'll return the favor 4 hours into a long, sunny ride a few weeks later.
  13. You will, if like me, occasionally feel really shitty about how much less fit and fast you are than your former alpine guide and former Ironman friends. Especially when they drop you on every climb. This will suck sometimes until you realize that they don't care, they still want to ride with you...
    because riding with a friend is always better than riding alone. And more friends is even better. Later, when you're back in shape and have something resembling fitness, one of them will say "I was having trouble keeping up with you for a while there" or you'll notice them snug up on your wheel because they're working the draft to stay on your wheel, and you'll fist pump secretly and then be thankful for all the times you hated them for lying about how that climb is "really mellow".
  14. Certain climbs or roads start to become saturated with meaning. As benchmarks for your fitness, a place to set a lofty goal, or scenes where you see the world more clearly. Roads feel permanent and anchored in contrast to their surroundings. They become like monuments in that they feel permanent and unchanging...
    and your interactions with that permanence become ritual. And then you see the surroundings change with the seasons, the weather, the time of day, your emotional state, etc, but your ritual is pure regardless, and the rest of it becomes impermanent passing luster and suddenly you realize why people go to church.
  15. You will fall.
    Almost every time you're totally okay, except maybe some scrapes or bruises and some pain. And you're 15-20 miles from home, you better get back on the bike and work through it.
  16. You will leave your house on a rainy Saturday at 7:30 am, still half dark. Barely any cars on the road. The one car you see as you stand up out of the saddle leaving the first stop sign to get your legs warm passes slowly. You make eye contact with the driver. They think you're crazy, they're jealous, they're making fun of you...
    but they're secretly impressed. Everybody else is in bed. It's cold, wet, rainy, windy, early and half dark. And you're going out to be with nature and your friends and your VO2 Max and play hopscotch with your pain threshold. Rain rides are good bike karma. Everybody knows that.
  17. RATIONALLY:
  18. Spin classes are expensive af.
    $35/class, 3 classes a week (still less time than a single good road ride), all year long is like $5400. That buys you an incredibly nice bike with all the gear you need, and years of use.
  19. Stationary bikes aren't the same as real bikes.
    They don't ride the same, they don't feel the same, grinding against constant fixed resistance isn't the same as the challenge of balancing and managing and riding the bike up a varied grade.
  20. You can also pretty much cut out your tanning budget if you have one. You're going to have the sickest tan ever.
    Might be a little uneven though. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  21. Roads are never full, don't need sign up sheets, and you can start riding at any time you want.
  22. Are you one of those people who does group fitness because you like showing everybody else how much stronger you are?
    You might think road cycling doesn't give you the same opportunity. WRONG. There are group rides everywhere for you to join and show off. Plus we have Strava, which is like social media for your ride data, which makes it perfect for bragging about how fast you are or self-loathing about how fast you aren't.
  23. You're missing out. You don't get to see yourself get faster on a climb you've decided is your nemesis. You don't get to pull over at beach parks to refill your bottles and eat a banana. You don't get to climb 2000' up through fog to get above it and see the ocean shimmering beyond the fog. You don't get to eat whatever you want after a 60 miler...
    and still lose weight that day.
  24. It's really hard to notice your phone ringing in a back jersey pocket. Time on pedals = peaceful time.
  25. MULTIMEDIA:
  26. It's so fun. And fast.
  27. It takes you beautiful places.
  28. You get to take way more selfies.
  29. It has 10000% more bullshit.
  30. It also frequently ends in coffee.
  31. Getting dirty feels good.
  32. This ended up just being a love letter to how much I, a long time mountain biker and occasional road cyclist, have fallen for road cycling in the past two years. Sorry.
  33. But seriously get out of the "studio" and ride a bike with your friends. It's the fuckin best.