What racing/commuter knows if they commute to race, or race to commute? If commuting by bike were essential, it could be argued one races to be sufficiently strong to reach work on their bike, without passing out. However, we all know commuting by bike is not something that is essential. One might get to work on the bus, or by car.
With that argument off to one side, we might next try to argue that commuting is done in order to race. The problem of course is that competitive cycling is hardly mandated! Just like bicycle commuting, racing is something we do out of choice.
Where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us asking if we should not simply join the other 99.9% of the world’s population who neither race, or commute, using a bike. The mere thought is intolerable! Quick summary: we don’t have to commute, and we don’t have to race, but we do have to cycle. And needing to cycle, means we must both race and commute.
The gaping hole, as you have noticed, is my prima facie claim about needing to cycle. What would be so intolerable about joining that 99.9% who don’t cycle (and by that I mean, every day)? I can answer for me by saying that I need to keep riding to hold onto the pride I have in my heart and my thighs. That pride is reinforced every time I race well on the weekend, and every time I casually tackle my daily commute. The commuting serves the racing, which serves the commuting, which both serve my pride.
But what if I had never cycled enough in the first place, to attain this heart and these thighs, that I am so proud of? And when exactly did it all start, the excessive output of energy and development of muscles, that set me on a path to becoming a competitive cyclist?
c.1990. I was so proud of this bike, with the gel seat and foam grips, and the naively high seat.
Actually, my cycle fitness was born out of poverty. In the early 1990s I was living on $130 per week, with only a secondhand Kuwahara mountain bike to use to do shopping, visit friends, and go to lectures. I actually couldn’t afford public transport!!! Deep down I think cycling is my way of telling the world that I made myself out of nothing, through my own inner reserves of tenacity and optimism, having truly come into the world naked. Without going into every gory detail, my upbringing made the slums of Manila look honest at least.
One glimmer within my dark childhood, was my mother’s insightful reading of people. I recall her once telling me how a particular arrogant man we had met, got to be so, because he had been self made. Self made men are often that way, she said, perhaps unaware of the implications, because, like any mum, she was hoping to instill in me qualities that would help me make something of my self, later in life. Neither do I think she was aware as she spoke, that arrogance is just some people’s way of masking their insecurities. The biggest insecurity plaguing the self made, comes from the sense that self made is somehow like "home made", and thus not really real.
Race wins are real. Hence their importance. Hence the commuting, etc..