A few years ago like most here, I wanted to buy a bike and get back into riding after a few decade away from two wheels. I found this forum and was inspired by the stories and accomplishments, as well as the level of support and a minimal amount of judgment.
I bought a bike and started riding. The first thing I noticed, was all the chatter about how far and how fast. I felt I was missing out, so I went to the bike shop and bought the best wireless computer I could afford, and started charting my rides on a spreadsheet at home. Time, Temp, Dist., Ride Time, Avg speed & fastest speed and route. This became an obsession for 3 years in a row, but each year had its own focus.
Year one, I was only concerned about my average speed of my rides. This caused me to pick specific rides and repeat them over and over to try and better my average speed and total ride time. I noticed that near the half way mark of the riding season, I was hating riding. Mad at myself if I was slow one day, or mentally could not handle a head wind, knowing it was going to screw up my spreadsheet entry.
So, I decided to stop worrying about speed, and only concentrated on distance, regardless of the time it took. My mileage doubled from the previous year, but I again found myself mentally struggling with the fact that I was again chasing something. I had posted one time that am not the type of person that likes to set goals or compete with myself, and I got a fair amount of flack for that statement. Well, after 52 years, I know me, and I was right. I started to not look forward to each next ride, because it felt like I had to one up myself and if time would not allow, or some other factor impeded my ride, I again had a negative feeling when I made the spreadsheet entry. During this evolution, and to further give example of my anarchist nonconformity, I gave clipless pedals and shoes a 700 mile test and in the end, made the decision that if I never use them again, I will probably be fine, and went back to pinned platforms and never looked back.
Year three rolls around and I decided it was time for a change. I changed bikes and went the opposite of what most do. It seemed that everyone was wanting and or getting road bikes so before I bought my current bike, I did the following. I thought maybe I am missing something here. I bummed a nice road bike from my LBS for a week (them thinking they were going to sell it to me) and decided to give this a try. After a 140 miles of watching my front tire and the pavement roll by, and not being as impressed with my speed or distance as I thought I would be, bored our of my skull, thinking "so this is road biking? I just ride a bunch and I am done? Where is the adventure in that?" So I took it back and ordered my GT PEACE 29er, and knew what and where I wanted to ride.
So, here I am in year 4. I ride a fully rigid 29er mountain bike with pinned platform pedals. I have a computer, but it just sits and runs and maybe collects some total mileage data, but I really don't care if I ever reset it. When the battery dies, I may just chuck it. So far this year, I have ridden some amount of hours, and some distance, at probably less then 8mph average as 90% of my miles are on single track dirt trails and fire trail double track. My bike is dirty as hell. There are leaves and stick in my spokes, and when it comes time to change out my knobby tires for my summer slicks, they will be my big fat balloon big apples at about 45-50 psi with no concern for energy efficiency or speed.
I found my biking nirvana. For me it is riding without people, in areas that others would never take a conventional bike. My hours may be spent at 7mph on a fast day, but my smile factor is so off the chart this year compared to the past three. I am a back roads badass, an urban ninja, riding golf cart paths in pitch darkness of night or plowing through piles of leaves in the fall. I don't have a number on my back and no one is waiting for me with stopwatch at the end of a ride.