Doc­tor Hutch

Whis­per it: the Doc likes run­ning. Just not as much as pay­ing big bucks to regress to child­hood

Cycling Weekly - - Contents - Doc­torhutch_­cy­cling@timeinc.com

As you may re­call, I’ve taken to adding a bit of run­ning to my cy­cling. And I’m go­ing to make a hor­ri­fy­ing ad­mis­sion — I quite like run­ning. Not as much as cy­cling, clearly, or as much as eat­ing a Cad­bury’s Flake in the bath, but there is some­thing med­i­ta­tive and slightly mind­less about it that’s miss­ing from cy­cling, where there is quite a bit of time tied up in con­cen­trat­ing on not get­ting your­self all dead.

But if you men­tion run­ning on so­cial me­dia, sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple tell you off for it. “Is your bike bro­ken?” “What were you try­ing to es­cape from?” and “Cy­clo-cross? Et tu Hutch?” are just the print­able replies.

There is com­plete una­nim­ity. Cy­cling is bet­ter than run­ning. The ques­tion is, why?

It might be the edgy feel that comes from cy­cling’s some­times shady past and present. Per­haps we like to think that we have our place on the fringes of a dark, noir-ish un­der­world? At last the asthma in­halers that were noth­ing but a source of bul­ly­ing at school have be­come the weapon of choice for peo­ple who are not afraid to walk the men­ac­ing back streets alone. We can name 15 dif­fer­ent steroids with­out hes­i­ta­tion or rep­e­ti­tion, and iden­tify a user of hu­man growth hor­mone at 20 paces. (Clue — grotesque jaw­bone growth means he’ll be floss­ing his teeth with a dress­ing gown cord.)

Or maybe it’s noth­ing that sin­is­ter. It could be just the de­light­fully enor­mous ex­pense in­volved in cy­cling. As we know from the Cy­cling Weekly prod­uct tests, the more ex­pen­sive some­thing is, the bet­ter it is. A pair of run­ning shoes costs about £100. But you can spend any­thing up to £10,000 on a flash road bike, which means that cy­cling is 100 times bet­ter than run­ning. Ac­tu­ally you’ll still need to spend at least £100 on a pair of shoes, so that makes it 101 times bet­ter.

Or do we some­how en­joy the bloody in­con­ve­nience? A run­ner go­ing on hol­i­day can travel with hand lug­gage. A cy­clist go­ing on hol­i­day will need at least a 20kg bag­gage al­lowance, and horseg­rade tran­quil­lis­ers to cope with the stress of look­ing through the aero­plane win­dow be­fore de­par­ture and see­ing Gatwick’s beefi­est bag­gage han­dlers per­form­ing the dance of the car­bon splin­ters on their bike bag. Not to men­tion the for­bear­ance re­quired to never com­plain about this hor­ror to their fam­ily at any point of the sub­se­quent bike-less hol­i­day. It’s nice to be able to so eas­ily demon­strate our com­mit­ment to our hobby.

Another pos­si­ble at­trac­tion is that cy­cling of­fers the chance to join a de­spised mi­nor­ity, the sort you nor­mally have to be born into. As a cy­clist all you have to do is go about your law­ful, High­way-code com­pli­ant

“Cy­cling of­fers the chance to join a de­spised mi­nor­ity”

busi­ness, and you can de­pend on re­ceiv­ing abuse, threats, and so­cial me­dia as­sur­ances of a messy death. The feel­ing of in­jus­tice binds us to­gether into a tight broth­er­hood. But no one re­ally hates a run­ner. They feel sorry for them, at best, and no one ever built a broth­er­hood in ad­ver­sity on pity.

Or is it the sheer machismo? If noth­ing else we can ex­plain away un­sightly-look­ing scabs as the re­sult of hav­ing ‘crashed’, rather than ‘tripped’. Which word is more likely to im­press your non-ath­letic co-work­ers?

In spite of the ex­pense, the in­con­ve­nience, the un­de­served ha­tred, the road rash, cy­cling is still bet­ter. But I hon­estly can’t nail down ex­actly why. I like to think I’m a so­phis­ti­cated adult, but could it be that it’s just be­cause cy­cling still feels the way it did when I was 10 years old?

Like see­ing beauty in art, cy­cling’s glory is just a fact, and you have to ac­cept it. We are the cho­sen peo­ple. And I re­ally must stop ad­mit­ting to go­ing run­ning on so­cial me­dia.

Run­ning won’t drain your wal­let but be pre­pared to bleed on so­cial me­dia...

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