The joys of a new bike are tremendous, but lately I’ve been thinking about the rewards my bikes have given me even after that new shine is long gone. Until 2020, it had been years since I was consistently riding. Now, I’m finding myself on a bike more days than not.
I moved this year, so the wandering rides around my new town and joining in on local group rides have given me a sense of connection that I’m super grateful for.
The technicality of mountain biking turns my brain on in a really fresh way. I love a sport where seeing your progress is so clear. No matter how muddy, sore, or exhausted I am, every time I get off the thing I’m smiling ear to ear.
I’m also a pretty rubbish runner, so being back in the saddle has been good for my fitness. You won’t find me in races or competing with others, but I love competing with myself. Longest rides? Fastest descents? Lowest recovery heart rates? Nerding out with those numbers is loads of fun for me!
We have a community of cyclists here in the community that ride in countless different ways, but the celebration of fun stories, amazing projects, and little trips around the neighborhood all ring in with a common tune. It would be great to hear your thoughts and celebrate the wins that biking provides — bonus points for bike photos!
What has your bike given you?
@TomIrvine, @JRO, @bikingdrummer, @RustyTug, @CycleArt, @TeeDaddy, @ccampbell1873, @MTB_Tribe, @LJMcGuire_NM_Cyclist, @Panicsinlondon - From your previous responses, it seems like biking has been an exciting addition to your lives. Want to share what your bike has given back to you?
I take my bike with me all over the place, I go on rides to the nearby trail system and shred down familiar trails, to the library to drop off books, on short rides with my dogs, and even to the store to pick up a few groceries once in a while!
I used to be on a competitive cross-country MTB team. Living in Utah, MTB teams are super big and almost every high school has a team. So, biking is my favorite way to exercise. It also lets me zone out for a while and clears my head if I'm feeling stressed.
My favorite bike shop has a sign on their front door that says, "You should ride your bike for at least 20 minutes every day, except when you're busy, then you should ride for an hour."
When I first got into distance road cycling (sometime in the 80s, if memory serves), it was for a sponsored event for the American Lung Association, and one of the things I appreciated was the training program they made available. I showed up with my dad's heavy old 10-speed, no helmet, no water bottle, and no clue. Getting into cycling gave me connections with lots of amazing people, opportunities to see parts of the country I'd never paid attention to, a lot of new skills, confidence to get around without a car ... and a rather chunky line item on my personal budget! 😁
Something the first group trainer I worked with said has always stuck with me: "When you're driving through the countryside, you are looking at the local color. When you're cycling through it, you are the local color." I loved that. Not only do I get to be proud of myself for riding all the way to the top of Sandia Crest, I get to be part of the stories that other travelers tell when they get home. That's kinda fun!! But for me, mostly it's about connecting with other cyclists in the big group events like the LA Marathon bike trek or the Seattle To Portland ride, and the smaller events with just the local riders that become buddies.
Escape from the mundane everyday existence, new cool people, blowing steam off on truly bad days, green way of running errands, fun bar-runner, and enabler of exploration is what my bike does. (Also, occasional money pit too...)
"What has my bike given back to me?" The simplest most truthful answer I can give is... life.
In my 40's I started to feel heart pain when I was sailboat racing and really exerting myself. Little did I know that I was suffering from a hereditary heart condition. Turns out I was a real mess inside and the only thing they could do for me was give me was an experimental surgery. 12 years ago in a 10 hour surgery, I had 6 bypasses (CABGx6) on Christmas Eve. I was the second person to have it done and thankfully the surgery was a success. That was the easy part. The hard part was recovery, cardiac rehab for anyone is no joke and it was 6 times worse for me. To all of my doctors surprise I fought the pain and did what I needed to do to get myself out of the house and onto the local hiking trails in 4 months. Then came the bike. I needed some cardio so I bought a Trek hybrid that I rode 10 to 20 miles a day to get back in shape. I wore that bike out so I upgraded to a Ghost hybrid gravel bike. With this bike I started bike commuting and traveling. I worked so hard on that bike that I was able to complete a goal I had since 2 weeks after surgery... To ride over Kancamagus Pass fully loaded with bikepacking gear. It was the happiest day of my life, tears of joy and all. Since then during the pandemic I traded up to my dream bike so I can ride to even more places that are less reachable. Since buying my Surly Krampus I've ridden one 3 week trip one 4 week trip and I'm loading up for another 4 week adventure.
So basically my bike is with me or on my mind everyday. I'd much rather be riding than doing just about anything else. My bike gives me life, mentally and physically. Thats the short and long answer.
Wow @RustyTug! Thanks so much for sharing that story with us. It's fun to see how your different bikes represent your different stages of recovery in a way too!
All these years later, I'm happy to hear that you recovered so well from your surgery. It sounds like that took incredible amounts of work and dedication to make happen. Congrats on completing your Kancamagus Pass goal — there's not much better than those tears of joy moments!
Here's to many more great rides on your new Surly Krampus!
Congrats @RustyTug ! Way to go! So glad to hear of your recovery.
I understand exactly how you feel. I have a similar story. I have been an avid recreational cyclist for a few years. Late last fall I noticed that after hiking, or cycling 1/4 - 1/3 the distance I was used to, I'd be completely drained. That signaled me to see my doctor. A few tests later, I was having a triple bypass. I too went to the cardiac rehab with the goal of getting back to riding, and hiking. I kept overachieving in the rehab (much to my coaches delight, or chagrin) and when I had my first real (not stationary) bike ride, I started with some trepidation, but after finishing 25 miles, I felt the same emotion and elation that you described. Since then I've ridden, or hiked at my normal pace, and have even added gym climbing to my repertoire.
Welcome to the "zipper" club. ❤️