Fun Guy vs Fitness GuyMy friend BRAD always puts riders into one of two categories: Fun Guy or Fitness Guy (or Fun Girl and Fitness Girl - substitute as necessary). Fun Guys just ride for fun and friends while, supposedly, Fitness Guys are all business on the bike. Fun Guys go mountain biking in the snow while Fitness Guys ride the trainer, sweating for hours in front of a Vuelta a Espana DVD. Fun guys duel with each other on twisty descents while Fitness Guys take it easy, recovering from their last set of 12 VO2 Max intervals. Fun Guys have coffee before and gelato after the ride, while Fitness Guys pose for coffee before and then head straight home for a protein shake and massage, as well as a nap.
It's easy to see why Fun Guys are fun and Fitness Guys are not necessarily so fun. Why ride a bike at all if you're not having some fun?
In order to succeed in cycling, as in most things in life, it is important to maintain a bit of perspective. Fun Guys don't really care about succeeding at anything besides having a good time, so theoretically they are good to go. Fitness Guys, on the other hand, want to win. But what's so great about winning if you are miserable? I used to read an English magazine called Cycling Weekly (as opposed to Cycling Weakly, which is what I do), and in the late '90s there was a rider who won nearly every road race he started. His name was Matthew Illingworth and in every single victory photo he looked positively miserable. Brad would likely nominate him as the poster boy for Fitness Guys. (If someone actually sends me a photo of Illingworth smiling as he crosses a finish line, I will send you an REI gift card worth $20). Anyway, I think you get my point.
So, who wins? The truth is that Fun Guys can benefit from some fitness and Fitness Guys can benefit from having some fun now and then. It's a lot easier to do epic fun mountain bike rides with your pals when you have a bit of fitness and some strength in your legs to grunt up those steep bits.
It's also true that Fitness Guys can probably do themselves (not to mention their loved ones and perhaps society in general) some good by lightening up a bit. Why not eat a bit of gelato and stop counting calories? Skip a workout or two on your training plan and take your partner on a surprise trip to the coast. Maybe hang out at the back of the local hammerfest and chat with some Fun Guys you've never taken the time to meet before because you've been busy at the front every week trying to rip their legs off. The possibilities for Fun are endless - all you have to do is want it.