Why do you ride a bike?
Fitness? Competition? Exploration?
The term “joy riding” is often used to describe simply riding for the sake of riding. That is, without training goals, structure, or plans. It implies that riding a bicycle is inherently pleasurable and that the actual act of pedaling for propulsion is itself enjoyable.
Well, is it?
My answer should be obvious.
But I think “joy riding” is a misnomer. A training ride is, at its foundation, no different than a joy ride. The physics involved in each ride are identical. Pedaling is pedaling. The variations that do occur come only in the intensity, or more abstractly, the intent of the ride. But neither is more enjoyable than the other. There is no such thing as misery riding. Of course, elevating the intensity of a ride certainly increases the physical pain involved. But pain is not misery. Indeed, I would argue that misery is instead, the lack of pain. Without pain there is no joy. One must precede the other. Or, even more absurdly, pain is joy—at least in the odd case of cyclocross.
The benefits of training and racing—added ability and fitness—make those joy rides even more delightful. Competition breeds excellence. A fit, experienced rider can cover more ground, with more efficiency, speed, and skill than a rider who is inexperienced or who fatigues easily.
However, (and best of all) riding—any riding—creates fitness and increases skill, which in turn, makes the entire process more enjoyable. Pedal strokes, after all, are circular.
In the end, joy riding is the only kind of riding.