Stop Being Sniffy

Yeah, I have to admit it, sometimes I’m sniffy. Mainly it’s about non-cycling stuff, such as coffee (yup, I need freshly roasted beans, and can be bribed with decent beans), or music (I love decent rockabilly, and it’s founding fathers of jazz, blues, and country) and to be honest I can be precious about such things. However, I always thought that I wasn’t sniffy (I mean snobby if you didn’t understand) about cycling. I’ve always tried to embrace any type of cycling – riding to the shops, road racing, time trialling, commuting by bike, riding with your kids, etc.

I’d always chastised friends and colleagues who would laugh at people riding sportives, or triathlons as these weren’t “proper cycling events”. Indeed, one complaint I’d heard was why even bother entering a sportive – you can just go ride the route for free. And, then, I realised that I too had been snobby about cycling. I felt ashamed.

James Hayden came to me last year for coaching. I was busy, but I could have coached him, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to. Come on, the Transcontinental Race isn’t a race, it’s a bunch of people riding from A to B, it’s not proper racing. I told him I couldn’t coach him and forgot about him shortly thereafter. Officially I was a bike racing snob. I don’t know why I thought that? Years earlier I’d lived in France for a few months and had watched the riders go by in Paris-Brest-Paris – another ultra cycling event. At the time I’d been amazed at how fast they were going, and how long they’d ridden for. I’d even shouted encouragement.

James approached me again this year, and I coached him. He wasn’t the touring cyclist I’d expected him to be – he was a full on racer who also did unsupported ultra events. Maybe you thought the people taking part were slow tourers? Hell, James certainly isn’t; 46:56 for a 25-mile TT. Yes, that’s right, a smidge under 32 mph for 25 miles. I’d be happy if I could average that for 5 miles!

Sportives. To be honest, I’m getting sick of people saying these aren’t proper cycling events. They’re great. I’ve done quite a few, and yes, there’s loads of people in them who couldn’t ride a road race or time trial, but who cares? The more people that are riding bikes, the better it is. The greater the number of cyclists (of whatever type) there are the better it is for all of us. Maybe some of the people will go onto be racers? Maybe some will get fitter? Hopefully though they’ll all have fun, just like we do when we cycle (whatever type it is). And, if you see someone who perhaps doesn’t know how to ride in a group, or hold a wheel, or corner well, well maybe you can help them out and show them.

I rode a sportive at the weekend with Claire. It was a 100 miles, and Claire’s first attempt at such a distance. Seven or eight months ago Claire wanted to be able to do any ride at an average of 15 mph. Since then we’d gone faster than that, but in the sportive, we averaged over 15 mph. I was massively impressed. Claire picked up a gold certificate. Happy days. It was a great day out. You should do one too!

Claire is my partner
Stray Cats are the best band on the planet
I’m easily bribed with these coffee beans. Beans. I said beans. Not ground coffee!

I hope you’re not sniffy. Ride your bike and have fun 

OtherRichard Stern