Bike riders love our gadgets. But sometimes it feels like we have too many. In recent years, I’ve stripped the handlebar-mounted computers off all my bikes that didn’t truly need for navigating long rides. I stopped tracking my annual mileage. I quickly tired of the GPS doodad I received as a gift. And I’ve never been interested in heart-rate monitors or wattage meters, which would mostly be expensive ways of measuring how much I suck.
But I’ve remained addicted to carrying a cell phone. It can be valuable in the event of an emergency, and the built-in camera can be handy if I’m not carrying a real camera.
Then one night last week, I pedaled away from my house and, out of habit, patted my pocket to make sure my iPhone was onboard. It wasn’t. The memory of it on the table while I ate a sandwich made me start to turn around, but then I stopped myself.
When did cell phones become mandatory? I happily rode thousands of miles before those things became a ubiquitous piece of gear that humans take just about everywhere but the shower.
As I rolled down the street, I realized I was riding only a couple of miles to a brief appointment and there was no real need to have the phone in my pocket, so I didn’t go back for it. Blowing it off was actually sort of a thrill, and that’s kind of sad.
Simplicity is beautiful thing. And it often makes a bike ride more fun.