If you mountain bike, I bet you started because it was fun to hang out with friends, tackle some new trails, and explore a bit.
For most of us it’s about the social side as much as the riding and exercise.
I raced for years and got pretty serious about my riding. I trained, I changed my diet, and I moved work schedules around in the interest of being faster.
In those days my riding groups got smaller. When you’re pushing that hard, there are fewer folks to ride with. It was still lots of fun, but there was a pressure attached to it and It seemed like the innocence was gone.
Now that I’m well past my racing days, I get out on fun group rides quite often and the same old feeling of riding with buddies has come back a little bit.
Recently one of my old racing friends asked me to enter an E-Bike race. My first reaction was “No way, I still prefer human powered rides and I don’t race anymore.”
After reading about the race format, I changed my mind quickly. This “race” included a consistency race where you had to try and mimic your first lap time on lap two and three, all by feel. Smallest gap wins. Then a couple timed rides the next day on some amazing terrain, and finally on day three, a poker run where time meant nothing.
It hit me, this isn’t a race at all, but just a bunch of guys hanging out, riding bikes, and most likely drinking a beer or two over a weekend. Sounds like a festival, not a race.
So this last weekend, I went to the dark side and did my first ever E-Bike race.
I saw tons of old friends, rode a bunch of new trails, and despite having a motor, I worked my but off.
I sometimes hear from cyclists that look down on other disciplines of the sport. Maybe a mountain biker not liking road riding, or some dude with huge legs and lungs laughing at E-bikers and calling them cheaters.
In the end, like most of you, I ride bikes for fun, and I’d argue that every one of us this weekend had more fun than we have in a long long time, E-assist or not.
Muddy faces, pumping blood, and loads of camaraderie over three days … Just like the old days.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…