I was talking with a cycling friend of mine who lives across country from me, and I mentioned that I grabbed a Clif bar at the halfway point in my long weekend ride.
“I never eat that stuff,” he said. “I prefer real food. I guess I’m just old school.”
I chuckled. He does eat real food during rides. He often sticks a banana in one of his jersey pockets, and if he needs to eat on one of his long rides, he’ll find a convenience store and get a small submarine sandwich. No gels or shot bloks for him. But I wouldn’t call him old school. He’s got a nifty carbon fiber bike that cost the same as three of mine. However, some other biking acquaintances might qualify, in one way or another.
There’s the guy with the steel 10-speed that is pretty much the same today as it was 25 years ago. He sees no reason to upgrade to a more contemporary ride. In fact, he thinks more than 10 speeds is ridiculous. He tells me he rarely uses more than five different gears during a typical ride.
Another friend rides a more recent aluminum framed bike, but goes without any of the current accessories. You won’t find him entering data from his Garmin into his home computer — he doesn’t have a Garmin. He doesn’t even have a basic cycling computer. Heart rate monitor? Forget it. If he wants to know his pedaling cadence, he counts his pedal strokes for six seconds and multiplies by 10.
Another acquaintance looks forward to this time of year, because the wind picks up and the temperatures go down. He trains in the wind the way most of us train on hills. And he has no problem keeping warm and comfortable on his bike — he wears a nice long sleeved wool jersey.
What else constitutes “old school” cycling? I once saw someone wipe his tire with his bare hand — after riding through broken glass. Do guys who train on single speeds or fixed gear bikes qualify as old school?
I’m happy with my current setup, and have no plans to revert to the accoutrements of bygone days. Well, maybe I’d like one of those wool jerseys.
Are you old school? In what way?