There are so many ways to lie. Exaggeration. Omission. Misdirection. Statistics. Intentional-but-cleverly-concealed logical fallacy. An anecdote, presented as a pattern. Misleading metaphors. And I’m just getting started (that’s a lie; I’m actually running out of steam).
I know all about lies. I have to, because I’m a cyclist. Hey, the two go hand in hand. If you’re going to be a cyclist, you’ve got to embrace certain falsehoods.
I have examples.
All You Need is a Bike and a Helmet
The Lie: One of the appeals of biking is that it has a very low barrier to entry. I mean, all you really need is a bike — which you can get at your local sporting-goods store or big box store. Add a helmet for safety, and you’re all set.
The Truth: Well, first of all you’re going to at least need a pump and a patch kit, some lube, and some basic tools, or your bike won’t last very long, will it? Even beyond that, though: sure, you can get yourself a cheap bike, a helmet, and leave it at that. In which case you will never understand why people who love biking love to ride their bikes. No, if you want to really see what your bike-loving friends are all about, you’re going to need a nice bike, some good biking shorts, biking shoes, gloves, and a jersey. That will be enough for you to started. After a while, though, you’ll need to buy more bikes, for different kinds of riding. And you’ll want to upgrade your components. And you’ll want more bike clothes, for different kinds of riding weather. There is no end to bike consumerism. At all. Ever.
Biking is a Good Hobby / Way to Exercise
The Lie: Riding a bike is a good way for you to get outside and see the world, all while getting fresh air and exercise.
The Truth: When you start biking, you’ll notice things like the outdoors, and you’ll be glad for the exercise. Soon, though, it won’t seem like enough. You’ll start taking longer rides, because the short ones just don’t seem to work you out the way they used to. And you’ll start paying attention to the road or trail instead of the world around you. Before long, you’ll notice that in order to get any kind of workout at all on your bike, you need to go out for a couple hours. And you’ll ride the entire time looking at the road or trail, not even thinking about what’s off to your side. And you’ll want to start riding more and more often, on more and more extreme terrain. At that point, you’re no longer a biking hobbyist.
You’re a biking junkie.
You Can Save Time and Money by Biking to Work
The Lie: You can get to work faster and for cheaper by riding your bike than by taking your car. There’s nothing quite so rewarding as passing hundreds of crawling cars as you head to work. Then, once you get to work, you feel energized the whole day. Plus, there’s the nice side effect that you’ve combined your workout with your commute!
The Truth: OK, all of that’s actually true. But if you bike commute for long enough, you’ll start talking to your coworkers about it, gushing about how great it is, and how they ought to try it. You’ll go on and on an on. Coworkers will cringe when you approach. People will start avoiding you at office parties.
Cycling is a Great Way to Lose Weight
The Lie: By riding your bike, you can burn 300-1000 calories per hour at an aerobic level. This can greatly accelerate any weight loss program.
The Truth: This is an especially insidious aspect of biking, because you can be snared by either of two opposing — but equally vicious — traps:
- Cycling begets hunger: If you ride your bike, you’ll get hungry. If you ride your bike more, you’ll get even hungrier. If you ride your bike for several hours, you’ll come home and eat everything in the kitchen. I have never done an epic ride in my life where I am not heavier the day afterward.
- Endless loop: As you ride your bike and lose weight, you discover that you’re faster. So you start trying to lose additional weight in order to be still faster on your bike. As you become very thin, you find that you can climb with incredible ease. You are no longer riding to lose weight. You are losing weight to ride. Why is this dangerous? Consider the logical extreme of this cycle: Michael Rasmusson, winner of the climber’s jersey in the 2005 Tour de France.
You Get Used to the Saddle After a While
The Lie: Everyone’s butt hurts when they start riding a bike. After a while, though, you get used to the saddle and it’s no problem. Just use some of that chamois cream to avoid chafing.
The Truth: Everyone’s butt hurts when they start riding a bike. After a while, though, you get used to the saddle and it’s no problem until you get your first saddle sore, which makes the pain you suffered as a new cyclist seem laughable. And that chamois cream feels so creepy most people would rather have the chafing. At least, that’s what they think…until the chafing occurs.
Today’s Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Contest
Tell a bike-related lie. Believability is optional.
PS: Bonus Chest-Thumping Opportunity
Al Maviva, Rocky, and Big Mike have an interesting competition going on: track how much weight you lose and how much your time trialing improves. They’ve got wacky algorithms and whatnot to make it fair: basically, the person who improves the greatest percentage over their start time wins.
If you’ve been looking for a friendly competition to help you hold your feet to the fire, this seems like a good one. They’re limiting the competition to 25 people, though, so you’ll want to enter soon, if you dare enter at all. Check Al’s blog for details.