Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Horseback riding verses bicycle riding

So as anybody who's been reading this blog for any amount of time will know, horseback riding has been a big part of my life for a very long time.   However, almost TWO years ago (as of June -- can you believe it?  I'm fairly horrified myself), that became less of an option and I've been trying, and failing, to find something to fill the void.

With the latest attempt being cycling, I find myself drawing comparisons -- esp when I'm riding my bike on the same trails I used to ride my horse...

I'd pick the horse every time...
So let's see:

Bike wins:
  • The bike generally always goes exactly where I tell it at the pace in which I tell it to go.  This makes for an extremely predictable ride. 
  • Getting hit in the face by a tree branch hurts with either kind of riding, but I can duck a lot lower on the bike. Also, the bike has never intentionally attempted to close-line me.
  • I have yet to have a random stranger ask if they can pat my bike.
  • My bike has never decided it's afraid of other bikes, or run backwards into a ditch, or tried to attack a dog (see predictable ride above).
  • Before and after care of the bike is significantly easier than the horse.
  • If I fall off my bike, it stays within a foot or two of where I left it.  It is also a shorter drop to the ground.
  • It is significantly easier to navigate the end-of-trail barriers on a bike than a horse.
  • I do not need to worry about my bike's fitness.
  • I do not have to dismount to clean up after my bike.
  • No matter what mood I'm in when I get on the bike, it will respond in exactly the same way.
  • I can leave my bike for months, and when I get back on it will behave exactly as it would if I'd ridden it yesterday.
  • I am less concerned riding my bike on the road than riding my horse on the road.
  • The bike is significantly less bouncy than the horse.

  • Both require a degree of fitness that I do not currently possess.
  • Both can go lame mid-ride.
  • Small children on bikes are more erratic and out of control than small children on horses.   However, teenagers on horses are crazier than teenagers on bikes.   Having been a teenager on both horseback and bike, I can attest to this.
  • Wind, especially a cold wind, is evil no matter which form of riding.
  • Both have large communities of passionate enthusiasts.
  • Both can go fast enough I can't see.  Fast is fun :)

Horse wins:
  • The bike generally always goes exactly where I tell it at the pace in which I tell it to go.  This makes for an extremely boring ride.  
  • My horse has far more capability than my bike to handle things like curbs, ditches, fallen trees, water, mud...   The original ATV.
  • My horse is far more forgiving of balance shifts than my bike.
  • Horse saddles tend to be more padded than bike saddles.
  • On horseback I have very few concerns about passing other riders on horseback; on my bike I am definitely cautious about it.
  • I have had far more hardware failures on the bike than I have had in decades of horseback riding combined.  That being said, hardware failures on horseback tend to be more dramatic than on the bike.
  • A horrible horseback ride leads to a far more entertaining blog post than a horrible bike ride. 
  • After a good bike ride I feel tired and happy.   An average horseback ride will get the same results.   
  • Never has my bike made me feel the adrenaline of a cross country ride, the pride of a brilliant dressage test, the heartbreak of acknowledging the partner you love will never be capable of achieving your goals, the fear of a bad bout of colic or mystery lameness, the utter peace of grazing in the sunset, the child-like joy of riding bareback.   Never do I find myself at work daydreaming about riding my bike.  

And so while I enjoy riding my bike, and logic points out the bike win list is longer, horse people have never been accused of being logical ;) And that last point outweighs all the rest together. But this is the kind of thing that goes through my head while I'm peddling my way 50kms, especially when my bike is not concerned with something that would’ve been high drama on my horse ;)


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