I consider myself fortunate, in that I was introduced to road cycling by some friends in college. My parents were not active and, aside from the huffy bike with all white rubber tires that collected dust as a kid, I never had exposure to cycling until I was much older. I may never have found cycling if it wasn't for some mentorship I stumbled into by sheer luck.
My question is, how did you find cycling? Did you have an avid parent that got you a bike before you could walk? A beat up hand-me-down that you rode into the ground? Or was your path more circuitous- maybe you saved allowance money for months to get that bike you’d been dreaming of, maybe you still are…just now its bike number 6?
Even better yet, does anyone have a great story about introducing anyone to any discipline of the sport? Perhaps getting a child started with their first 2 wheeler, or a taking a lycra-clad roadie friend out for their first mountain bike ride?
I cycled in College but then marriage, graduate school, and work got in the way and I eventually sold my road bike at a garage sale. Fast forward nearly twentyfive years and I am gifted with a new dual sport bike four years ago that I have since used to cycle and bike camp from DC to Pittsburgh, PA along the C&O and GAP trails and to cycle and camp around Williamsburg, VA for a week, not to mention using to explore many other trails for the day. Cycling has become not just a way to stay in shape but also a social outlet and another way to experience nature. I can cover and see a lot more of the outdoors on my bike than I can hiking, backpacking, or kayaking.
I moved to Chicago where the subway commute was so painful that riding my bike the 5mi to work was actually faster... and way more fun. I bought my first commuter bike at REI actually (the Novarro Big Buzz!) and it just clicked for me.
When I rode 20mi for the first time, and went to a shop because something felt weird. The mechanic decided that air in my tires would do the trick 🙂 In Chicago I also met up with the local Critical Mass ride and saw what biking culture could be. This was important in my development, I think.
Fast-forward a few years and I move to Boulder, CO and got my first road bike. I met up with others who showed me some local rides, and the rest as they say is history. I'm still riding that first road bike-- I have about 17,000mi on it!
My lesson for others: you don't need the best gear to learn to love cycling. It's the closest thing to flying while safely touching the ground.
My wife and I decided to buy some mountain bikes to take with us when we went to the beach many years ago before my now 21 year old sons were born. After their birth, we bought the obligatory baby bike seats for each bike and would take them for rides around the neighborhood, but we never really got "into" riding much. I was a runner, for goodness sake. Why would I ride for excercise? Then it happened. I got a little slice of hell called plantar fasciitis. I battled the pain for weeks and weeks and finally stopped running so I could let my heel heal. After 5 or 7 weeks, I had gained about 7 lbs. That was enough. I lubed up the chain on my old mountain bike and took to the roads of our rural community. I was doing 5 miles, then 10 and then 15 on a ride. But the mountain bike on the roads was kind of grueling. I was up in the ATL and went to an REI and took a look at the bikes they had and decided I'd go with a Ghost Speedline 2. I have changed the pedals, gotten a better headlamp for the handlebars and then took the headlamp I got to do a camp/hike for the Grand Canyon this summer and put it into the regular gear for my rides early in the mornings. Most weekday mornings a short workout is 15 miles (a distance that seemed like a long way 3 years ago). A decent weekend ride will be 40 miles. I stick a handful of smarties in one of the pouches on the back of my shirt (See the weirdest energy food thread) and a couple of bottles of ice water and head out for the next 2.5 hours. Most of the time it is just me out by myself at 430 am. But don't worry you'll see me with two headlights on the front and blinking lights like a Christmas tree on hooked the pockets of my jersey in the rear. I only run now when I am out of town on a trip. But riding has become a life saver for my sanity.
@TeddyMac I often say (with some snark) that all cyclists are just runners who got hurt. Nice work finding a way to get out there and ride.
I was doing some grad school research (10 years ago) at Sandia national labs in ABQ and bought a walmart drop bar road bike to commute between my apartment and the labs since i didn't have enough money to keep the gas tank full on my old hand me down expedition. A friend of mine also commuted on a single speed. That got me hooked, I quickly progressed from that walmart bike to a single speed bike and rode a single speed with a coaster brake (i was never cool enough to ride no brake fixed gear) through my remaining grade school years at Rice U in Houston.
I ended up never driving during grad school and doing everything on a bike in houston. my bikes were a single speed with coaster brake, hardtail mountain bike with panniers, and a steel frame bike with downtube shifters. My car at the end of grad school actually dry rotted all the cables and i had get all those replaced before i moved out of Houston.
The rest is histroy!!
Like most kids in the 50s and 60s we had single speed clunkers and we bombed around town back when it was safe and your neighbors looked out for you and reported misbehavior to your parents. But real “cycling” began for me husband and I about 15 years ago in spin classes at a local AZ gym. After going 2-3 times a week for about a year we thought, “Hey. We could do this outside.” So we did.
Since we’re retired (10 years ago) we ride a 5 days a week. We rode across the US in 2014, unsupported, just the 2 of us. It was a great adventure. We rode over 8000 miles in 2019 and we are now in our late 60s. We feel great, energized, and fit. Today we will roll out of our driveway for a 50 mile ride to a distant park, eat our packed lunch, and ride home. It’s a great day in retirementland! We ride on the road and on trails (not gnarly trails!). Age is just a number as is speed and distance. Elevation and wind speed, on the other hand...
Ride on, fellow cyclists!
This is a great thread! I like the stories!
Mine began with my adolescence in the 1970's. I had an appetite for adventure from reading National Geographic Magazine (page-to-page every month), but we lived in flat, suburban Western NY. The bike became my means of conquest. I had a road map of the state and began to blacken in all the towns that a friend and I had reached by bicycle. These would turn into day-long excursions. We never calculated the mileages, just blackened in the dots of the corresponding towns.
By the time I was 14, I was hungering to put myself to the test by venturing out on a self-supported overnight. I loaded up my bike with a sleeping bag, a frying pan, and some food, aiming for my grandfather's property several counties away. I got badly sunburned that day, but I made it, and camped out in the woods.
Mountain biking is the way to go...If I get hurt, its because I'm having too much fun...not because someone is texting while driving!!