"My own love of fixing comes from the fact that I like to cycle, and a quiet, basic machine appeals to me. My good memories of cycling have little to do with equipment and everything to do with experience.
Ride your bike to ride your bike. Do it because you want to. If you approach riding with a relaxed, light disposition rather than with an aggressive mindset, you'll really enjoy yourself. If you enjoy yourself, you'll stick with it. Sticking with it is good."
So says Matt Chester in a piece he wrote for 63XC.com.
I like this quote because to me it amounts to a perspective of cycling I have held for years. I take some shit for not having the most bling on my bike, for using 'outdated' parts (what's a 'square taper BB'?). I couldn't care less. I want worry-free function, that's for sure, and lighter can be better, but this whole idea of buying 'it' because it's the latest thing is for the birds. Don't be fooled by the price tag; although there is a relationship between cost and quality, this is not a direct and isolated relationship.
The quote also speaks a bit to the experience of learning new cycling disciplines. In this case he's talking about fixed gear, but the same applies to picking up anything new that seems daunting, like riding rigid when you're used to full sus, or riding a single speed when you've only ever had gears. Learning a new discipline is not especially difficult, but it brings different demands for which new techniques must be worked out. And the lesson ultimately, regardless of the new style, is Flow.
You hear a lot about flow if you spend much time in the cycling world, particularly offroad cycling. Flow is about looking ahead, preparing for obstacles (physical or mental), using your momentum to best advantage (the more you brake the more effort you must spend getting up to speed again), staying calm and loose, and most of all learning how to ride better with less effort. Flow speaks to a higher awareness of your connection to the machine and the trail, and the more you know about flow, the better your riding will be, regardless of what or where you ride. Flow isn't about the frame or components. Flow is knowing how to read what the ground and your bike are writing. A person with good flow riding a crappy bike can generally kick the ass of a person on a techy new bike who has not yet unlocked the secrets of Flow. Flow makes one Li Mu Bai, master of the Wudan, where before they were Chuck Norris, Texas Ranger. Or maybe flow makes one Betty Crocker where before they were merely Lil Debbie.
I have a theory that all of life's answers can be found in rock lyrics, so I submit for your consideration this sage advice from 70s rock philosophers .38 Special:
Hold on loosely, but don't let go. If you cling too tightly you're gonna lose control.
Probably best if I leave it at that.