I love the sport of cycling because it morphs into whatever I need it to, whenever I need it to. When I need the sport for focus, it is there. When I need it for relaxation, it is there. When I need it for problem solving, there.
There is a unique relationship between physical exertion and mental capacity. They work together to create something greater than either alone. Cycling is unique, as a sport, because it does allow time for your mind to “wander”, to address things that you might not even know need addressing.
For sure, for me, the competitive side of the sport is exhilarating and very interesting. Interesting on a personal level. I am a student of the sport. I get criticized here some, for being critical about other riders, and/or, team tactics. But, that is what I do in a race. I try to absorb as much information as I can from my surroundings and then use that information as best as possible, usually instantaneous. When riders or teams ride stupidly, or great for that matter, I register that and use that information later, or currently, to try to better my result. I find stupid bike racing rather boring, even though that statement sounds elitist.
Riding the MS150 from Houston to Austin a month ago, I was amazed how many people would decide to ride over 150 miles, in two days, nearly cold turkey. Those riders didn’t have the luxury to be able to process anything other than their current surroundings and feelings, because they were so new to the sport that they didn’t have any extra mental capacity to deal with anything other than staying upright, in the masses, and trying to overcome physical suffering. It takes a certain amount of time and dedication, to the sport, before you get to get to the next level of mind wandering freedom. This seems fair. You should have to pay your dues to get to the real benefits.
Anyway, don’t underestimate all the ancillary benefits that the sport of cycling gives. I would love to just make it a rule, that for the 1st year, licensed riders can’t have a power meter or Garmin on their bikes once they get an USAC license. Riders need to know the feel of their bike, learn the correct skills, to get to a point of being one with their bikes and surroundings. I believe too much focus is now put on registering and tracking power and that the other aspects of the competitive side of our sport is being ignored. The other aspects is what makes a good rider great. And this allows us all to do spectacular things.