This is an article from Cyclist Middle East written in October of 2015.
“Wowzers” exclaims Sir Bradley Wiggins in awe, as the Dubai 6 am ride rolls out. At least that’s how I imagine events would play out since I have never had the pleasure to meet and ask the man. I make this assumption because this peloton is no ordinary peloton. This is the super-bike parade.
Now, my bike is no cheap dragon mart (Chinese) knock-off, but I can’t help but feel as though I bought (as the saying goes) a knife to a gunfight. The first glimpse gives us S-works, Pinarello, Cervelo, look, and not just that but they drip with the latest equipment. Fancy titanium components from little-known manufacturers nestle among the high modulus carbon. Jockey wheels worth as much as my entire group set seem to smile arrogantly at me as they turn frictionlessly saving 2 watts. The people piloting these cash rockets wear the best kit from manufacturers whose only garment I own is a pair of socks, and those were a gift to be treasured. They appear as the cream of the cycling crop, the very best examples of knowledge and experience, but looks can be deceiving. I have started many a conversation with the rider of one of these superbikes only to find out that this is their first bike, even their first ride. I rotate to the back of the group to contemplate what this means. These bikes are commonplace in Dubai as the average wage allows extravagance. When the phrase “training wheels” means your older pair of lightweight Mielensteins I start to wonder. Could this be detrimental in any way? Is there something that is lost by starting at the top?
Life can be easy when you have the means that Dubai has, and cycling is no different. A classic line from Jeff Goldblum comes to mind. ” they were so concerned with whether they could, they forgot to ask if they should”. Just because you can afford it, should you be riding it? Years of cycling a heavy machine with basic components teach you, it indoctrinates you, makes you aware of your limitations, and of the bikes. Missing this step as so often happens when wealth exceeds experience, leaves the rider unaware of how lucky they are. Some skills can only be acquired along the way through trial and error. Never having ridden a bike from the basic category means you have no way to know how good your superbike really is. Like how pleasure is impossible without pain to create the reference point. Riding a low-level bike is what makes us appreciate the best when we experience it. In this way, I can almost feel sorry for these riders if it weren’t for the fact that I’m (obviously) jealous. Sure, riding the nicest bike will make you enjoy the ride that little bit more, make your average speed higher and make you look good but you have to ask yourself, where do I go from here?
In a city where we are pampered to such a point that having to take the stairs becomes an unbearable chore. We moan when our hot tubs are too hot (or not hot enough) and our pools too cold. Having a maid, a gardener and a dog walker are considered normal. Our cycling roads are perfectly smooth and are cleaned daily, our hills are manageable and weather almost perfect. We almost can’t live without the best bikes money can buy. Luckily for us, the cycling world will continue to change and invent new and amazing tech to update even the most super of super-bikes. As with computers, the bike you buy is almost out of date even before you have left the shop. Long live this cycle of innovating and inventing. It’s certainly a first world problem to worry that a super-bike may be bad for you when we both “have” and “have eaten” our cake.