After cycling in le Tour de Napa I noticed quite a few differences between running races and cycling rides, and between runners and cyclists. First off, I don’t really consider myself a cyclist. More of a “runner who sometimes rides her bike.” I bought my road bike about 3 years ago because, well to be perfectly honest, I was dating a guy who cycled all of the time and I loved riding with him. But he’s long gone and my bike remains. Which is fine– I love getting out on my bike, especially with friends, but I don’t love it the way I love running. And I’ve always loved riding my bike so it’s not like I bought it 100% because of a boy. For the record.
I actually went through a phase a couple of years ago where I was riding 3-4 times a week. I was really tan (and had a much easier job with more time after work) and got decently fast. As I fell for running more and more I rode a lot less. Luckily the fitness transitions and I can still ride for quite awhile on the random Saturdays I decide to ride.
Anyway, here are some differences I’ve noticed.
Biking requires a ton of equipment!
It’s easy to just put on your running shoes and go and it doesn’t take much advanced route planning. Sure, sometimes the Garmin will take a minute or 2 to load up and you can complicate your life with ipods and heart rate monitors, etc but at its core, running is a basically equipment-free activity. Cycling requires bike shoes, pedals, gloves, water bottles, helmets, sunglasses, my bike computer etc. Plus the bike. I can run anywhere, but biking requires a lot more careful planning– avoid busy, dangerous roads and places where you may get a flat.
You see much more on your bike
Last weekend I ran and rode basically the same route. Except, on my bike, I saw 35 miles worth of scenery and rolling hills and on my feet I saw about 8. Getting on my bike allows me to see much more– which is great. Sometimes when I ride at home I’ll ride to another county just so I can say I did that. I get a kick out of riding from town to town. Of course, if I ran to another town that would rock, too.
Bikers seem a little bigger than runners
At running races I’d say that I’m about average size. Everyone is around my size and I feel like we’re a smaller group overall than the general population. The bikers seemed a bit bigger than the runners. But it could be that the spandex outfits just show it more.
Running is a better workout for me
I can’t get my heart rate up on the bike unless I’m going up hill. If it goes above 120 on the bike, that’s an achievement. But, I can cycle for 3-6 hours without trouble. Pretty sure running that long would be pretty unpleasant.I feel like I need to ride 2.5 hours to emulate the workout I get on a 30-45 minute run.
Bike rides are mellow- you don’t win and there’s no timing chips
I’d imagine the people that ride in actual bike races are pretty intense, but the experience of doing a “ride” vs a “running race” was way different. You left when you felt like it, there were no timing chips or numbers and everyone was just out to have fun. People were working hard, but it wasn’t like the end of a running race when people look like they might die and are super sweaty. The whole ride just felt like a really active, moving, hang out time. Which was a fun change. I can get pretty intense at races and it was fun to just hang out. Also, the amount of food available at rest stops and at the end was awesome. There were cookies, fruit, PBJ, potatoes, etc. And that was just the rest stop. The post-ride BBQ had 4 kinds of meat, 3 kinds of bread, black bean salad, caprese salad, Ben and Jerrys, veggies, still more fruit AND bagels. Awesome.
Riding is scary.
Descending a mountain at 40mph, riding with traffic, unclipping at stop signs… all very scary things that keep me from riding often. I have to go through town (I say this like I don’t live in the middle of hte city, lol but I have to go through downtown which is full of cars and stop signs) to get to good roads and it scares the hell out of me. I feel much more in control on my feet rather than clipped in to my pedals. However, the more I ride, the more comfortable I get so maybe I just need to ride more.
Biking doesn’t hurt quite as badly
I’ve never puked or had to ice or felt like crap after a bike ride. I can’t count high enough to name the number of times I’ve felt trashed after a run. But feeling trashed is something I love (sicko! 🙂 ) so there you go. According to my physical therapist I don’t ride hard enough and should be feeling crappy after riding. So maybe I’ll experiment with riding hard and see where it takes me.
Overall, I love both. I’m grateful to have the option and lots of places to ride and run. I’m not leaving the running world any time soon, but after the marathon I may sub out a day or two of running for some biking. I really do enjoy it– particularly the social aspect– and I’d like to tackle a century ride next year. I think both are great. And I’ve found the majority of runners and riders to be generous, outdoorsy, sweet people. Plus, how can you not love activities that let you get outside and explore like a little kid?
I think that’s the gist of “fitness” or whatever you want to call it. Find what you like and what turns your crank. If it’s running, run. If it’s biking, ride. If it’s juggling while doing lunges on stilts, do that. Just get out there and love it.