Like most road cyclists, non-riders often ask me, “aren’t you scared?”
To which I always respond, “aren’t you?” The usual reaction at this point is one of puzzlement, until I complete the sentence, “…of stress, mental illness, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and generally feeling shit-house?”
Whilst it’s undeniable road cycling has its share of dangers, so does pretty much everything else we do in our lives. If we tried to mitigate all risk from our existences we’d, likely, never leave the bed each morning. Which, of course, would create its own set of dangers and problems. Bed sores are nasty.
Now I’m quite attached to my clavicle, cerebrum and epidermis and have zero desire to be crunched by an SUV or run into a ditch by a maxi taxi. But given the tens of millions of bicycle trips taken every year without incident, unless I cruise about like a total lunatic (aka bike courier) the odds are reasonably long this will ever actually happen, even if we all do have a few close calls.
Racing is a different story, however, and can shorten the odds of eating the bitumen faster than the NSW tote plunges in the last 5 seconds before jump time.
But to paraphrase my kids’ favourite song on the radio right now,
“…it’s the things that (could) kill me, that make me feel alive.”
It really is a matter of weighing things up; a classic case of opportunity cost. The way I see it, despite us all having the odd tumble – if you haven’t you will – and knowing instances of riders suffering serious injuries, surely the odds are still very much in our favour?
The pros of being a road cyclist far outweigh the cons. It isn’t even close. This goes some way to explaining why so many riders who crash or get injured inevitably get back on the bike as soon as they can. Which, frankly, is probably the only thing I’m scared about: if something happened that meant I could never ride again. Not sure how I’d cope with that…