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In Love Again: An Unabashedly Gushy Return to Cycling

“I’m in love again. I don’t know of any other way to describe it.”

My mother cocked her head. It hadn’t been the answer she was expecting. She’d asked me how my ride had gone—an impromptu jaunt to spin the legs out and get a feel for a new pedal/shoe setup. She’d expected a quick summary, perhaps. Yet I’d struggled to find an appropriate explanation and eventually there was only that one that made sense. She smiled as mothers do.

Truth be told, it’s been a difficult past few months: I haven’t been riding.

What started as a dull ache in my Achilles evolved into much of my leg hurting in some form or another. If it wasn’t the Achilles, it was the calf, hamstring, quad, glute or hip. Sometimes, it hurt to just stand. Being a responsible Healthy Young Adult, I sought medical attention. This kicked off a long process of finding a practitioner that could look at the "whole chain” and not just the individual links. I finally found someone and had some immediate results. I may or may not have used “giddy” to describe my mood once I got to that point.

Yet I’d been away from the bike for longer than I’d like to admit. When stubbornness overruled reason and I rode anyway, I hurt. A lot. So I’d stopped riding, because things were definitely not okay. That reality had pained me even further. Much like after a crash, just looking at a bike had taken on a different tone… a beautiful machine became a thing that was associated with pain. Instead of prompting fond memories of great rides, memories of aches and days of limping around surfaced. It wasn’t fun.

So after working with my specialist for a bit, I was instructed to ride on a new pedal/shoe setup. Immediately, my mind found itself doing all sorts of entertaining and contradictory acrobatics of uncertainty and excitement. But I love this! But it’s a cause of pain! But! Butbutbutbutbut!

My curiosity, though, overrode all of that. I wanted to see how things felt, pain be damned.

So I rode. And I remembered how much I love riding. I remembered the meditative spin, the intuitive and rhythmic dance of climbing, the motions out of the saddle, the burn of lungs and the remarkable memory of muscles. I ended up riding longer and farther than I’d planned simply because… it was the only thing that made sense. I was reunited with something that defies explanation.

Since that day, I’ve ridden more. It’s been rocky at times, with what seems like a cruel moving target of positioning, habit-breaking and strength training, but… well, it's okay. I’m back on the bike, and I know this is part of the deal. Give and take. Upstroke and downstroke.

Yesterday, I was rewarded with a morning commute that featured lifting fog, a surprising lack of traffic and an overwhelming sense of quiet and peace. The soft pre-dawn light and a curious owl silently gliding over an isolated bike path didn’t hurt the experience, either. The evening commute, though, surpassed all of that with a truly mind-blowing sunset that demanded attention for well over a half-hour.

At one point, after having stopped to soak in the view, a simple thought crossed my mind:
It’s good to be in love with riding again.

Posted on at 3:19 PM

Tagged: Cycling, bicycle, bike commuting, injury and recovery

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CORoadie

OMG... I have to have my wife read this. I have always loved the outdoors and have cycled a lot, on and off since college. When other things came around, climbing, hiking, kayaking I still managed to somehow get back to cycling. A few years back I figured cycling was the best way to meet my love for the outdoors and balance it with my commitments to my wife and kids. I could go out and ride in the morning on weekends and be home, often before they really got going for the day. A new job with crazy hours took me away for another year or two but then I figured it really was time to get back on the bike. Started training, made plans for some big rides and wouldn't you know it, an unexpected health problem hit me and took me out for the summer. But right after surgery I vowed I would get back on the bike and I did. Got to the point I could pop off 100 miles pretty easy again and planned to ride Colorado's Triple Bypass. Road to work one day when BANG fate struck again, in the form of an SUV that broadsided me while the woman who was driving and not paying attention took a left hand turn and ended last summer for me. Now I am still recovering, having just had a plate put in to permanently fix the broken leg that yes, I did ride with last fall but it never heeled and now all I want to do is to be able to get back on my bike. My wife doesn't understand it, my coworkers don't understand it but they just don't know what it is like to get out and ride. Ride the roads, ride the trails, ride the hills, ride the flats, ride in the pack, ride alone. They are all a joy and bring back the love that I have known since I was first a kid and found the freedom my bike brought me.

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Tomahawk1020

I broke my ankle in May and am still not even close to 100% and it has been almost nine months. My physical therapist just recently recommended biking which brought a smile to my face. I'm now commuting to work and planning some weekend touring rides. Although walking still hurts, biking leaves me pain-free and happy to be alive! Thanks for writing.

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Nanodawn

Hi there!

Congratulations on rekindling your love affair. Thank you for such a thoughtful, introspective piece of writing. Cycling is part of my soul, too, and i find that biking has given me back all that i've put into it and more. Yet as i age, i'm having more and more trouble being comfortable on the long rides that clear my head and restore my spirit. I've been told to seek a "medical bike fitting" but have no idea how to go about it. How did you find the right person to solve your fit issues? Was any of it covered by insurance?
Thank you again for writing. From the comments, your story has helped and inspired and struck a chord with many.
Many more miles, sir, and

Cheers,

Dawn

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