The long, lonely road rides of summer

August 3, 2012

In Whitehorse, you first see road cyclists hitting the pavement in early April. Basically, whenever the Alaska Highway is dry enough to be ridden. Cyclists wave to one another as they pass by. Groups of three or four riders are common, but I've seen and ridden in groups of 10, 15 or even more, which is awfully fun.

The number of cyclists on the road continues to grow in May and then peaks in June, right before the Kluane to Chilkat Relay. Or the Haines to Haines. Whatever you want to call it.

Then, suddenly, the roadies go away. Most turn into mountain bikers and hit the trails. I imagine some just put away the two wheels entirely and go do other stuff, like hiking, running and canoeing.Next, along comes July and August. There's barely any of us left on the road.

I see the same people all of the time now; not like earlier in the summer when it's new riders here, there and everywhere. I still ride my mountain bike during these months, but not as much as my road bike. With our young kids and puppy at home, I'm often not able to get out for evening rides earlier than 8:00 p.m. so being able to gear up and hop on a road bike is easiest with my tight schedule.

I've ridden and raced road for what seems like forever. I guess that makes me a roadie; it's part of who I am. I don't ride a road bike because I'm training for something. I ride a road bike because it makes me happy. Dan Gronross does a terrific job of explaining the "why" of road cycling in the video above.

In other parts of Canada, people ride road bikes all summer long. In the Yukon, it seems that most peoples' interest in road cycling comes from necessity, not passion. Once something supposedly better arrives, they put away the skinny tires and return to where they once came.

That's cool - to each his own - but it always makes me wonder, "Why?".