It was once famously said, “The truth will set you free.” The reality of that statement is that KNOWLEDGE of the truth will set you free. See, truth is out there, but unless one knows it, what good is it? And, while that is all fine and dandy, what does this have to do with cycling? Well, read on and be setteth free, my friends.
After having tested a lot of “Pro Level,” and “Cutting Edge” cycling components, accessories and apparel, I have reached the following conclusion: We need to be totally honest with ourselves. No, not in the confessional sense that brings sweat to most people’s brows, but with the healthy act of honest, self-reflection, and assessment. Putting it another way, does it really matter how we get there from here, just as long as we get there? See, the problem with being “Cutting Edge” is that said edge is constantly being re-sharpened. After having tried a lot of the afore-mentioned top-line stuff, I often found myself “Back-Pedaling” to the less flashy, more reliable, and affordable equipment. Unbelievable? Not really.
Bicycle advancements and new technologies are coming at the consumer so fast now, that not only can it become prohibitively expensive to “Keep Up,” but are a lot of these advancements needed, let alone beneficial to the average cycling consumer? Are we really advancing that fast technologically, or is it just like with consumer electronics: New and improved for new and improved’s sake? Just short of being wealthy, foolish, or both, the cycling consumer is marketed to with a tsunami of false needs.
And, examples are a plenty.
Do we, the average cyclist, really need the best, most expensive, or the hottest and latest? Will the “Fastest” tires really make the average cyclist faster? Do we really need Eight-Zillion grams of potassium, sodium and carbohydrates in every “Sports Drink?” Will that super-expensive, carbon “Aero” frame really make you king of the Saturday Morning Ride? Will that $350.00 helmet really protect you better than the identical $40.00 version without the big brand name on it? Is that pair of $20.00 socks really better than the $1.99 pair made out of absolutely identical material sold down at the local Five & Dime? Do $500.00 shoes really feel and perform like $500.00 shoes? Will they perform better than $100.00 shoes? Are those expensive ride-nutrition items really better than what nature provides, i.e. The Banana? Will that pair of $6000.00 carbon wheels really serve you better than a pair of $300.00 alloys? Will that expensive fifteen-pound bike really make you happier than an eighteen-pound, more affordable ride? Will that “Top of the line” gruppo really perform better and be more durable in the long-run? Get the picture, here? Well, if you do not get the point by now, you never will.
Cycling is a very healthy, enjoyable, and pure activity. If one cannot grasp that, then you are in the activity for the wrong reasons, and no amount of “Cycling Bling” is going to change your attitude, much less your abilities (or lack, thereof). Find what works and what you can reasonably afford, stick to it, and ride.
See, being completely honest with yourself will take the weight of vanity and “Keeping up with the Joneses” off of your mind. A free mind is always ready to ride and absorb the purity of our chosen, healthy activity.
It does not get any simpler than that, folks.