Monday, December 21, 2009

A little history...

I’m sitting at work at the moment, with not much to do except wait on customers (who take care of themselves) and twiddle my thumbs. So here I am writing.

I started this blog about cycling because I legit thought I would keep it updated. Life, however, had other plans. I haven’t actually biked in more than two months (!!!) and I miss it terribly. Biking for me is a simple joy…go out on my own power, go wherever I like, for as long as I’d like and forget about life for awhile. Now the sun sets so much sooner, the wind is colder, the air is crisper and I still haven’t bought any cold-weather cycling clothes.

I did, however, pick up some Weyless rollers…then promptly fell off of them. For $70 I too, can look like a spandex-wearing fool, indoors. I haven’t put any real time into learning how to ride on them, however. I’m leaving that for this weekend when I can once-again don the bike shorts and jersey and pretend I’m going out for a ride, helmet-less. Or…maybe I’ll wear the helmet, so when I fall over sideways onto something most-likely hard and/or sharp I won’t have permanent damage.

My first choice was a standard resistance trainer, and then I heard so much about rollers, and how much better they are to train on, and how much better you ride come the spring. I found this set on Craigslist, where I pretty much find everything else that is awesome with my life. Me and the boyfriend (who gladly drove me to pick up said rollers in his car, since no way on earth would they have fit in the Macymobile) have been watching, much to our amusement, YouTube videos on how to ride rollers. One was from Evans Coaching, and showed a pretty awesome platform-thing with built-in grab bar that folds out of the wall. Yeesh. I also asked for tips from a client of mine, who is the Editor of shePedals Magazine. A forthcoming how-to section in the mag would be awesome.

Besides the rollers…I never talked/typed about my bikes…or…much of anything in this thing. Well, here we go.

I started cycling when I was around 14. I first had a Walmart-special, quasi-mountain bike. It was good enough to ride on grass, and some road…but nothing any more fun than that. I also managed to strip most of the teeth off the front cogs, so it was useless after a year. During this time I did research, read books and looked at stuff online. I stumbled across, and life changed. Ken’s site was, at the time, regularly updated with everything from cyclo-touring to using the bike as his ‘daily driver.’ He also wrote extensively about Henry David Thoreau, one of my all-time favorite, eccentric writers. It was fair to say I was/am a huge fan of Mr. Kifer’s site. I type this in the past-tense because Ken was tragically killed in a drunk-driving accident in 2003.

Regardless, I now wanted a road bike. It just so happens that on her way home my mom saw a bike on the side of the road, with a sign saying ‘free.’ She described it as one of the bikes with the curved handlebars and such. Ooh! A road bike! We drove down and brought it home, and I was then the proud owner of an extremely heavy Gitane mixte frame bike in desperate need of new tires/tubes and chain. Maintenance accomplished (I started getting the mechanic itch back then, even) I started riding as much as I could on that bike. I completed a 30 mile charity ride for the American Cancer Society, and looking around at all the snazzy new roadies with their spandex and aero helmets, I realized the bike wasn’t quite made for what I wanted.

The next bike to come in the stable is still my commuter today, a 1970’s Raleigh Grand Prix. I picked it up at my hometown’s annual swap meet for $10. It, too, was in desperate need of tubes and tires, and even a new rear derailleur. The neat thing, however, was that I had ridden the Gitane to the meet…and rode the Raleigh back home, struggling with the shifting, though not half as bad as my brother struggled riding the purple Gitane that was definitely too big for him. I rode 50 miles on the same charity ride the following year, with half of the handlebars missing tape (late night unfinished repair, of course).

A couple months after the ride, for my 16th birthday, and after I had been dumped for the first time, and had gotten my first real job…I got my first brand-new road bike. My mom had caved to my griping about gear ratios, frame weight and lack of a granny gear (bad knees started early) and bought me a: 50cm (perfect!), pearl white and blue, triple cogged, 24 geared, button-shifting Trek 1000 for twice the price of the Macymobile (she was $300 after-all). This is my bike now. I rode in several charity rides once I started college, but have since resigned to riding with a local bike club and solo as much as I can.

This season my average weekly mileage was pretty poor…I’m not even going to mention the number. I don’t feel like a ‘real’ roadie with how much I haven’t ridden. A couple months ago I was thinking about riding across the country with a partner or two, but for now I’ll enjoy riding locally, and my goal for next season is to complete, or at least start, an actual road race, you know with the fast speeds and such.

Cycling across the country is a life-long goal of mine. I know it can be done, and I know with how stubborn I can be, I can do it. The question then becomes can I afford it? Who’s crazy enough to go with me? Do I really have the time? Starting and ending is easy…start in Boston, pass through CT, end in Los Angeles, and maybe continue up the coast to Washington…easy, right? I could pay thousands of dollars and go on a group trip, where every little cut is immediately cared for, and there’s a van following behind in case you want a break from the boredom of being out on the road. I don’t want that. I want to carry everything, taking cues from my habit of lightweight backpacking. Camp every night, eat when you can, beg if you must. See the real world and not the world of instant gratification. A hopeless dream, maybe, but better than nothing.

I’m going to drag someone into cycling with me…at least on a more-or-less daily basis. I have a few people to ride with on weekends during the season…but no one who’s really going to call me up and go, hey, it stopped snowing, let’s go for a ride! Must change this!

Right. So this has my been extremely long-winded blog post about me and cycling, and where I stand. I’ll let you know how the rollers go…or don’t go. Maybe I’ll even have a video to back up the claim that I actually learned, when that actually happens.

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