So, have you thought about it? Have you taken a good look at your bike and asked both it/him/her (bikes are like German: they can be feminine, masculine, or neuter) and yourself, “Who chose whom?”
The answer is, the bike chooses the rider.
This does NOT mean that the bike you own and ride necessarily chose you. You might be operating on the illusion that this bike is “your” bike, but is it really yours? As in “Baby I’m Yours”? Or, does it just go through the motions, doing its job but no more, rolling under you like a lifeless sack of carbon fiber, aluminum, steel, and/or rubber? (Not titanium – there is great question as to whether titanium bikes really choose anyone for a partner, or whether they just allow you to ride them, because that’s the only way they can go out and parade the roads and trails like shiny pageant queens.)
When your bike chooses you, it (I’m going to stick to the neuter from now on, because my mountain bike is neuter, and it started this whole thing) will let you know. (Because I know you’re curious, my triathlon bike is a he, as is my CX bike, and my road bike was a she.) Largely, it’s just a feeling you’ll get. But here are some indicators that a bike has chosen you for it’s rider:
- It gives you that look whenever you walk by it. This begins at the shop (rarely online … sorry, but ebikes are like mail-order brides: you may luck out once in a blue moon and find out it’s “the one,” but that’s a hefty risk to take, my friend). Usually, the bike will spot you from across a crowded room, and you’ll do the same. You give the bike a once-over, and it does the same. It might bat its eyes at you, and you will either get that uncontrollable, giddy smile or a solemn wash of awesome respect. This look will continue whenever you visit the bike in the shop, when you take it for it’s first test ride, and when you take it home. It will give you that look whenever it wants to go ride. A bike will only give that look to a rider it has chosen.
- It is honest with you. A bike that has chosen you will tell you when it wants to ride. It will tell you when it needs a rest day. It will scream,”Clean me, asshole!” when you let crust build up on the bottom bracket shell. It will tell you when you’re getting fat and need to ride more. It will tell you to take a damn shower, and change its bar tape while you’re at it, because it stinks. It will tell you when you’re ready to quit for the day, or when you’re just being a lazy bastard and should ride another loop. A bike that has chosen you will not like to you.
- It tells you where it wants to go. When your bike is completely on board with having you as its rider, it’ll make you its passenger if need be. This becomes especially apparent if you have been ignoring your bike and not riding it like you should. Just last week my mountain bike made me ride up a gravel road for 30 minutes, just to have to ride back down it. The road didn’t go anywhere, but my bike made me ride it. When your bike has chosen you, it knows what you can handle, so just listen to it.
- It gets jealous of your other bikes. This could lead to some tricky situations, including bike wrestling. One bike will somehow roll across the room, garage, or shed, and either block access to, or even throw down, your other bike. If this happens on a mysteriously regular basis, there’s a good chance your bike has chosen you.
- You find yourself hugging, kissing, and congratulating your bike on a regular basis. Have you ever gone up to your bike after a really good race and patted it on the top tube, telling it what a good job it did? After you pass through a gnarly section of trail full of roots, berms, and drop offs, do you high-five your bike? You will do this naturally if your bike has chosen you, because you will know that your bike only performed so well because you have earned its respect. You will not be a narcissistic jerk who says “It’s not about the bike.”
- You don’t want a new bike. Yes, this seems obvious, but there’s a reason why one of those stupid rules states that the correct number of bikes is n+1. And that is because there are a whole lot of sad saps out there who have bikes who have not chosen them. When you look at your bike amongst a field of sexy beasts, and have no desire to ride any other bike but yours, you are a lucky bastard, because your bike has chosen you.
So there you have it, my friends, the bike chooses the rider. Well, I must flee for now, but I might have some wise words about what to do if your bike has not chosen you if you come back in a few days. I need food.