It’s not about the bike.
I’m not knocking the cyclists. Really, I’m not. But if you are a cyclist? Don’t read this.
I never got cycling. Tour de France was interesting and Lance is an incredible athlete, but the bikes never thrilled me. When I think about the bike races, all I can think is “Yeah, but isn’t that because you bought a good bike?”
When it comes right down to it, running is all about the athlete. Yes, good shoes help, but they don’t make or break the runner unless the shoes are terrible and actually injuring the runner. When the runner is out on the road, it just him (her). Nothing else. No machine to manipulate that is making or breaking the race for them. It’s the true feeling of athleticism.
The cyclist needs the bike, by definition. The bike becomes an extension of the cyclist. As such, the performance of the cyclist depends on the performance of the bike. Did you buy an expensive lightweight bike? Well, then your performance is better. Somehow, that just goes against the nature of a sport. If you can buy a better machine, then your athletic performance has a strong tie to your wallet. It’s just not right.
I know, I know, there are expensive running toys like GPS and fancy socks, but let’s be honest about that argument. GPS and nice socks are a far, far cry from the improvement seen with a graphite composite bike that weighs six ounces.
Do you have to be a good athlete to win a bike race? You better believe it. You have to be a good athlete just to compete. Can you be lacking in athletic ability and make up for it with better equipment? I think yes. Try to tell me that cyclists out there haven’t seen improvement in their times with better bikes. Try to tell me that cyclists with times they weren’t happy with, didn’t look at a newer, lighter, better-geared bike for making some headway towards their goals. Tell me if you ever heard of a runner say “If I only had those shoes, I’d beat my PR.”
So when I see an athlete like Lance winning a bike race, I think “Yea for Lance!,” but deep in my heart I know that half of it is the bike. Now Lance wants to run a marathon. Will his time be respectable? You damn well better believe it. I mean, the guy has a heart the size of cantaloupe. But will he ever win? Even in his age group? Nope. I don’t think he knows how to win like that.