I know what you’re thinking: “the pics are not fair”. Ok, I’ll give you that but you have to admit I’m right. Where running has cycling beat is in simplicity: lace up and go. vs. inflate, check lube, put helmet and gloves on, get water bottles, etc. But once we’re out there, we definitely win. Here is why:
1. The Bike. Every athlete in the world has to admit that a bike is one of the coolest athletic implements ever invented. It has been evolving rapidly, almost as fast as other technologies. What’s really amazing about it is that sophisticated technology like titanium alloys, wind-tunnel designed carbon fiber and ultra-light components have reached affordability levels that put them at the reach the average cycling enthusiast. They are works of art and engineering and they are so much fun to ride.
2. The Gadgets. This day in age there are great gadgets for both running and cycling, for sure. GPS, stride counters, cadence, etc. But cycling has running beat with the power meters. Granted, they are not for the faint of heart (literally) or the average enthusiast because cheap they are not. But you have to admit that knowing exactly how many watts your body puts out on that damn hill is the coolest statistic ever.
3. The Hats. Check the variety of helmets available. Wind-tunnel designed, 25 vents, Kevlar injected, you name it. The best running hat has a wicking fabric and UV protection. You could argue the fashion aspect of each one, but not the coolness.
4. The Gear. Running shoes are, well running shoes. I get it, there are some minimalist trends today, ultra-light materials, psychedelic colors and even ones with a separate compartment for each toe. But come on! Carbon shoes that you can perfectly mold to your feet by warming them up in your kitchen oven. Different kinds of sole stiffness, add the booty covers for winter and they get even cooler. And that’s just the shoes! Don’t get me started with the jerseys. Can you really compare a 3-pocket full zipper jersey with a sophisticated pattern to a T-shirt?
5. The Hills. You can’t beat the thrill of the wind in your face, looking at your speedometer go up while you’re heart rate goes down riding downhill. Running downhill is actually painful. Uphills on your bike are an accomplishment, you get an endorphin rush of a full 5K in a 1/2 mile 10% hill.
6. Coasting. When you get tired or reach a flat, coasting is not only accepted, but encouraged. you can grab a sip of water, adjust the full zip of your jersey, or simply look around. Walk breaks are, quite frankly, embarrassing. You tell me, what would you rather have, your arch rival coming towards you in opposite direction while you are coasting or taking a walk break? Exactly!
7. Your Body Will Thank You . Running is an impact sport and cycling is not. Your body can take a much longer cycling session than a running session. At least the average body. i know ultra-marathoners and Tour-de-Francers are exceptions, but the average enthusiast can easily train for several hours of cycling in a relatively short period of time. Running for more than an hour is a lot more painful and takes a lot more training.
8. Distance and Speed. Cycling covers more distance so you get to see more. A ride takes you to around 3 – 4 times more distance than running and you can squeeze an extra 15 min for a scenic route. Looking at your computer mark 40 mph in a downhill is pretty thrilling too. 8 min miles are great accomplishments but not at all thrilling.
9. Calories Burnt. This is the most arguable of all because it depends on a lot of factors. But Running Word estimates that your net calorie burn per mile ran is 0.63 x your weight in pounds. So a 160 lb runner burns roughly 100 calories per mile. Let’s say that a fairly fast (8 min/mi) 160lb runner can do 7.5 miles in an hour so s/he will burn 750 calories. According to Bicycling Magazine’s Calculator the same person cycling, let’s say @ 20 mph can burn over 1000 calories during the same hour.
10. The Name. Let’s face it, running gets sometimes associated with the wrong things. I’m sure nobody has cycled away from anywhere in fear. Have you ever told a friend “I’m going running” and s/he jokingly said “from what”? … Right!
Perhaps the athlete’s personality has a little to do with the choice of sport too. At the risk of overgeneralizing, cyclist tend to be geeky and gadget oriented, a bit more so than runners. And runners tend to be pragmatic and efficient individuals. I happen to do both, but obviously I prefer cycling.
Triathletes, well, those are just crazy! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.