There was a time, not that many years ago, when going out for a bike ride was very much an analogue experience. Then Garmin, Strava, Zwift et al. came along, and social media bloomed and blossomed, and now a bike ride, like everything else, is as digital an experience as you want it to be.
There are still those who avoid all this, of course. They are the Quality Controllers, keepers of the spirit of cycling for cycling’s sake.
But there is one among us who has taken things a step further, so that each bike ride becomes a public relations excercise, broadcast to the watching (?) world in a variety of ever more contrived formats.
So this cyclist can, for example, take the perfect selfie at the drop of a hat, in any given weather conditions, and produce an image which resembles a Rapha photoshoot; all stubble, grey skies, and perfectly recreated suffering.
Personally, I have long since given up on the mid-ride selfie without, to be honest, ever having got started – I end up looking not so much like a Rapha model as a tired cyclist wondering where his next tailwind is coming from.
Once our friend has captured his image he will immediately Instagram, mysteriously despite the fact that the rest of us are struggling with apparent lack of mobile phone coverage half-way up some Yorkshire Dale.
His Instagram account is linked to his Facebook page, he Tweets pre, post, and even mid-ride, and links his Strava account to his Twitter feed. He can even explain, in reasonably understandable fashion, what Stumbleupon is.
I don’t think he uses LinkedIn.
On top of all this media output, he will undoubtedly write a blog post at the end of the day to sum up all the loose ends.
Now don’t get me wrong. I may be mildly mocking this approach to cycling which boils down to an obsessive documentation of every kilometre traveled, but it really does no-one any harm, and this – the digital playground – is the world we live in.
I just haven’t got the heart to tell him no-one is watching.