In the late 1980s, when I started cycling, it seemed more simple than today; riding for riding's sake, pure escapism, no data and no rules. I remember watching the Tour de France for the first time, seeing the climbing stages and being enthralled. From that point on my inspiration to ride would come primarily from the mountains. Since then not only has the popularity of the sport increased dramatically but the way it is conducted has shifted. The ability, through fitness apps, to constantly monitor and measure detailed metrics means riding is becoming less about being in the moment. To me this change is counter to the simple means of escape that is such a fundamental part of riding a bike.
Riding in the mountains typifies this escapism. Ascending a high pass by bike is a sensation that is hard to match. The activity forces focus, effort and restraint, yet allows the mind to wander, random details stick in the mind and become memories of the experience. Kilometre after kilometre, it is at once painful and enjoyable, intimidating, enticing and meditative, a careful management of energy and a solitary endeavour, even when in the company of others.