I’m always amazed at the feeling of those first few bike rides of the season. It’s the closest I think I’ve ever come to really feeling freedom – at a gut level. It’s so refreshing to feel the road, have the wind in your face, and work your legs into a rhythm.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had some fabulous rides. They’ve been simple and short; only 20-25 miles each. The extra pounds and not being particularly fit means I can’t jump into it too quickly. But holy cow have they been fun.
Before I started running I was a biker. My biking was very similar to my running: I didn’t compete. I wasn’t fast. I just loved to go out and roam and see where the roads would take me. I remember one day during the summer when I was in college. I left the house on a Sunday morning not really knowing where I’d end up. After I’d ridden 50 miles and climbed 2,500 ft I stopped for a candy bar, turned around, and rode home. I guess that’s a testament to what a college-aged body can do. There’s quite a difference from 20 to 50.
The next summer two friends and I rode 450 miles through the CO mountains. No sag wagons. We carried everything, including sleeping bags, on our bikes. It was quite the adventure. We slept in school yards, fairgrounds, wherever we could find a place to put down our sleeping bags. All that riding and no shower – in a week. Actually, in the end, I chickened out. I had a minor accident with one of my riding buddies. You know when you push off and you’re trying to get your foot in the pedal and you’re a bit wobbly? Well – we collided – and it potato-chipped my front wheel. We were quite close to a reasonably sized town. I could have gotten it fixed pretty easily. However I’d had it. I’d run out of mental energy. I hitched a ride – and they rode – home.
The riding fell away when the running began (and the kids arrived). I just loved running so much. And given work and young kids, it was just too hard to take the time to ride (which consumes hours) when I could have a good run in in 30 minutes. So the bike was relegated to the role of giving the hooks in the garage a purpose in life – as well as being a great dust collector.
So, since necessity is the mother of invention, I have been getting back into biking. A couple of years ago I bought a new road bike. Up until that point I’d owned two Trek road bikes. The first was a 1979 Trek 514. (If you like old Trek bikes check out this site. There are fabulous pictures and some great information about the vintage Trek bikes.) Then about 10 years later I bought another Trek. This one had Biopace chainrings. Remember those? They were awful. The concept was to make the chainrings slightly oval, to give the rider more leverage at certain points of the stroke. The problem was that with the varying radius the effort required to turn a revolution was not constant – so it felt like they were pulsing. I had to change them out for round. I couldn’t stand them.
I figured a 20 year old bike was worth replacing. This time I broke from the Trek tradition and bought a Specialized Roubaix. Oh my gosh – what a fun bike. Rock solid shifting. Shifting while out of the saddle. Light and a feeling like you’re riding on rails. Bike technology advanced just a little bit in 20 years.
If it has been a while since you’ve ridden - give it a go. I can honestly say, between the swimming and the newly-rediscovered biking, not running isn’t all that bad.
P.S.: I’m doing tons of hip work. The work involves not only strengthening but also improving neuromuscular control. My ability to do various moves and keep the foot calm is the goal – and things are improving very much. The foot is improving, but very slowly. I know I’ll be running at some point. I’ve decided to not have this place be a blow-by-blow of those activities.