It’s Not About the Bike

Photo of Lance Armstrong with bubblyLance Armstrong once proclaimed, “It’s not about the bike.”

You would have been hard pressed to convince me of that this morning though, as I took my shiny new road bike on its maiden voyage. Yep, after twenty-four years of riding the same bike, I finally upgraded my Buick to a Maserati (okay, maybe a turbo Beetle).

Why did it take me so long to buy a new bike? Well, first of all they cost as much as a used car. Second, there are so many choices, it makes your head spin trying to figure out which one to buy. And third, even though my old bike was heavy and merely equipped with twelve gears, I knew it inside out and backward.

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson cycling during the Carpinteria Triathlon

Betty and me during the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon

I knew exactly when I needed to shift gears, get out the saddle, or lean into a curve. And I knew every quirk about it. I may have moaned as I cranked up hills, but in reality, I was comfortable with this old beast of a friend, I called Betty. She had carried me through numerous recreational rides and races, several triathlons, and a mountain of leisurely spins.

But last weekend after I finished a long training ride with a fun group of women, I noticed when I loaded Betty up in my van to head home that she had a flat tire.

Somehow this spectacular day of traversing some of Santa Barbara’s most scenic and challenging roads seemed the perfect ending to Betty’s long, illustrious career.

It’s then I decided to retire her and say, “So long, dear friend…”


Becky with her new bike named Lucy

Lucy and me before heading out on a ride

…and “HELLO LUCY!” Woohoo!

As I was flying along today, grinning from ear to ear on my new ride, I knew for sure Lucy was going to turn me into the next Lance-olita Armstrong.

Tour de France logoThe thirty gears. I repeat, THIR-TY gears. The carbon fiber forks. The hard-as-a-rock seat.

Yeah, baby, look out Tour de France!

But then, after about twenty-five miles my legs started to feel heavy, and my back and triceps started to feel like…well, let’s just say…like they weren’t twenty years old anymore.

Wait a second! That’s not supposed to happen. Do you hear that, Lucy?

Okay, okay, I guess I have to admit what I already know: it really isn’t about the bike.


It’s about the person riding the bike. And it’s about the hard work that still needs to be done—the five bazillion squats, lunges and core exercises I still need to do to get into the shape I’d like to be in again. The hills. The hours in the saddle. The discipline. The focus.

It’s the same thing with writing. We may think we’ll be better writers once we have the perfect writing space or when we get the latest computer upgrade, or perhaps when our websites are all snazzed out (or just up and running), but when it comes down to it, it’s not about any of that.

It’s about our thoughts, our creativity, focus, and discipline. It’s about working our tails off to make it happen. It’s about hours in the proverbial saddle, cranking out words and thoughts, like pedals cranking out miles on the road. It’s about commitment, and most of all, it’s about not finding excuses.

My new bike isn’t going to magically turn me into the next Lance Armstrong (or anything remotely close), nor is anything else going to turn me into the next Harper Lee.

Nothing, that is, except for hard work.


Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

42 thoughts on “It’s Not About the Bike

  1. Great tale. I keep trying to get that idea through to my daughters who are surrounded by instant everything. My oldest is trying to get into art school, I’ve repeatedly told her the only way to improve is to sketch, sketch, sketch and sketch again. 10,000 hours till mastery of anything. I know she’s getting it—but she ain’t liking it.

    • Thanks, Lynne. “Instant everything” has changed our perceptions of what is necessary to reach a goal. Art in particular is difficult to master without hours of work and commitment. You are a wise mama to instill that in your daughters!

  2. You mean, now that I have cleaned off my desk, my writing won’t also be magically clean and sparkly?

    I was afraid of that.

    Guess I’d better get to humping up that hill, then. (Congrats on Lucy, anyway!)

  3. Great post! I love your analogy of the bike in your life and your writing. I’m afraid that I tend to get busy with all the details of being a writer instead of sitting my butt in the chair and focusing.

    I love to ride my bike, though that’s another place I don’t sit my butt in enough! :-) I am not in your league. I just like to ride in the park. I feel so free! I hope you continue to enjoy Lucy.

    • I get caught up in the details of writing too, and find my mind in about ten different places at once. Cycling and running are both good ways for me to focus my thoughts. I’m usually much more ready to sit and write once I’ve been in motion. Thanks for swinging by and leaving a comment. It’s great to see you here again.

  4. Love your post. I’m not a cycler, but I appreciate the feelings you have about the experience and how you compared it to writing. There are things in my life that do the same for me.

  5. I’m late to the party, but I had to comment. You pegged me with this one. Yes, I spend too much time griping to my husband that if I had a better space and more filing cabinets and bookshelves then I could complete the first draft of my WIP and get all kinds of essays published. I’ll just keep telling myself now “It’s not about the bike.”

    • Never too late to the party. I’m glad you joined us! I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have some sort of “bike” in their lives. “If only I had this, then I could do this…” If it’s any consolation, my office sounds a bit like yours. :-) Happy writing!

  6. I’m so glad you wrote about this! I can totally relate, especially since I just sold my old road bike on Craigslist- 12 years of riding on that bad boy… At least the young man buying it was excited. Anyway, yes, it is about the rider and the ride!

  7. I am so glad that I was able to experience your maiden voyage on Lucy. You could have fooled me, I thought you looked like the next Lance Armstrong, heading up those hills. Great piece!

  8. I’m not anywhere close to your league, but I do love my Earth Cruiser bike. She makes me feel free and opens my world to endless possibilities. She feels like an extension of me – only much, much more agile…and faster. I’d even credit her with title of therapist.

    And very nice transition into the sweet spot. It’s always a joy to find a piece with good bones.

    • Giving your bike the title of ‘therapist’ is priceless, and so perfect. There’s nothing like time in motion to work through your thoughts. I do that all the time too, while I run and cycle. Glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave me a comment.

  9. I think this has got to be one of my favorite posts of yours ever! So clever and sweet and WISE! We spent so much time thinking that if we just had this or that, we’ll finally be happy. It’s just not true, is it? Because in reality, the happiness comes from the journey and the process and it’s not about crossing that finish line, it’s about the time and effort it took to get there.
    You are such a fine writer, my friend! LOVE IT!

    • I’m glad this struck a chord with you, Jessica. I Love Lucy for reminding of exactly what you said in your comment–’happiness comes from the journey and the process and it’s not about crossing the finish line’–even though crossing the finish line does feel ridiculously good sometimes. :-) Thanks for your kind words of encouragement!

  10. Oh, you indeed take me places I forgot about, Becky. I had a basic ten-speed that I rode her throughout most of my pregnancy (I was living in Sag Harbor at the time) until one day, maybe my eighth month, a wise voice (my own) said, ‘It’s been a good ride, but we don’t want to risk falling now, do we?’ So walking got me through the remaining weeks. I did take up running again when I moved out of the city, then made the switch to a spiffy new mountain bike that I enjoyed for a time, until I realized that two feet on the ground, a brisk pace to my walking, is simply more my style. That’s not to say if I ever find myself in Santa Barbara, I wouldn’t enjoy a little spin with you. I have nothing but admiration for your spirit and, yes, you’re so right on in your suggestion that only after putting in the time devoted to ‘our thoughts, our creativity, focus, and discipline’ do we get to cruise.

    • I love cycling, but there’s nothing like having your feet on the ground. Hopefully running will be in my future again soon. And yes, if you ever make it to SB, it would be fun to spin, walk, or just sit on the beach and sip vino with you!

  11. “I’ve read that I flew up the hills and mountains of France. But you don’t fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill, and maybe, if you work very hard, you get to the top ahead of everybody else.”

    Lance Armstrong – ‘It’s Not About the Bike’

  12. Becky, Your bike has thirty gears. It’s sounding very interesting. i hope you are having a great time with this bike. :)
    This one is a really nice post. I specially liked that part, where you compared riding a bike with writing. It’s so true; writing is all about creativity and all other things can only complement that creativity. As always this post has some wonderful thoughts embedded in it.

  13. I Love Lucy–and Harper Lee! Seriously, 30 gears! What the heck? I never had a bike with any gears and I remember when they first came with gears, a ten-speed was the rage. However, this Spring I’m buying a bike and hitting the road. I’m so tired of jogging. Time for a change. I plan on getting balloon tires and no gears and only riding down hill. I will have my wife pick me up in the truck when I reach bottom! Keep writing. HF

    • A town cruiser! Those are the best–especially the big cushy seat and the upright handlebars–so great for cruising down hill. Just be prepared if you ever have to go uphill. “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Or “Where’s my cell? Where’s my cell? Where’s my cell?” (to call your wife). :-)

  14. Too funny! You may remember my bike is a mountain bike with slicks. I just can’t bring myself to upgrade when I use it just for biking to work and short tri’s.

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