As an individual with a background in sports science the performance side of cycling has always been of fascination and interest. Indeed the challenge of preparing to ride faster and longer is an aspect of the sport that I find absolutely invigorating. Yet in the same breath I recognise that the contributors at play that allow me to obtain so much satisfaction from cycling add up to significantly more than any performance measure. Essentially riding in itself is great fun.
The challenge of not becoming overly fixated on performance measures over the overall experience is a genuine trap. Information technologies have quickly taken hold of the sport. No longer is it enough to know ride time and speed. Feedback on heart rates, watts, and sophisticated GPS tracking are now well and truly entrenched into the cycling mainstream. The ability for riders to merge this with the traditional time tested elements that make a quality riding experience deserves consideration. The potential for the experience to be eclipsed is real.
Recently I have been fondly reminiscing about riding Passo dello Stelvio (probably stirred by the upcoming Giro d’Italia). The Stelvio literally goes up, up, and up – its 48 mesmerizing switchbacks taking it to a lofty 2757m (Italy’s highest pass). Like all those before me to experience this magnificent climb, the exhilaration was within the environment of the ride and my ability to absorb the moment. These are the images that I now reflect on and smile.
Moving into the future we need to be stay conscious to what it is that has truly made cycling the activity to which it is. Cycling, in the year of the100th Tour de France, remains one of the most participated physical activities on the planet. Soon I will be leading a trip of enthusiastic Australians and New Zealanders to the 2013 Tour de France. My prediction is as we ride amongst the hundreds of thousands of passionate fans on Alpe d’Huez that none of us will be wasting a second on anything outside the theatre that we are players within.