Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Change of Pace

When I was a kid, I lived on my bike. After all, it was my only source of transportation. It spelled freedom from my parents. We rode everywhere. Being close enough in age, James and I almost always shared the same friends. Also, our closest friends shared our love of bikes.

I remember countless trips around town: down to the gas station for a soda, across town to a friends house, or over to the bike store. We never rode very fast--after all, what was the point? We were there to be out on our bikes. I remember once trying to ride all the way across town without touching the handlebars except to shift or stop. I remember my futile attempts at trials around the local high school.

In those days, I was more comfortable on my bike than almost anywhere else. At the time, I owned a pair of cheap cycling shorts, a helmet and a pair of cotton crochet gloves. No cycling shoes--toe clips and running shoes back then. No jerseys--a cotton t-shirt was just fine. Somehow, all those cycling bits and pieces I have so much of today, didn't really matter. I was comfortable on my bike, because I lived on it.

I remember the camaraderie. Riding past a friend, and grabbing their brake so they'd have to slow down. This was especially successful if that friend was riding with a 44-oz soda.

Last Saturday, for a brief moment while riding with the neighborhood boys on their cheap bikes--making fun of me in my lycra, of course--it all came back to me. I don't begrudge the type of riding I do now. I love long rides. I love fast paces. For that hour or so on Saturday, though, none of that mattered. It was just a few guys riding along and talking--having fun.

I love the contrast in cycling. Being on a bike is so much fun--whether I'm hammering down a lonely country road, clearing an obstacle on a difficult trail, or just hanging out with friends on bikes.


James Sharp said...

Man, those were the days... night riding without any lights. Mountain Biking without a care, or patch kit. We didn't seem to take everything so seriously.

I remember riding the drainage ditch above the Mall, you know the one made of cement, and calling that a good ride. Jumping all of the stairs we could find. To this day I am amazed that no one put their bike through the windows of the RHS' library after flying down the stairs in front of it.

Theresa said...

At what point does one cross over into the "taking it so seriously" range? When does the whiz bang bike come in? The move to cleats? The obsession with making sure the tools are at the ready? I feel like it's creeping over me. The right helmet, the right shorts (I prefer skorts, bit of a girly girl), then the right jacket (wind ya know), then gloves to match the jacket (Doh!), and now.. I can't stop looking at biking shoes. How much biking is "required" for their to be a legitimate need for the high end bike? 20miles a day? 30? 50?

I'm terrified of making that leap to the whiz bang bike. What if.. I don't stick with it? Will everyone mock me as a wannabe? Will it have been the best money ever spent or a giant waste?

-hovering on a cusp of some sort.. not sure what happens next.

Jon Sharp said...

If you're terrified to buy a whiz-bang bike, then maybe it's too soon. I found that my desire (and subsequent justification) for a nice bike preceeded my need by years.

It really depends on your situation. (What a cop-out answer, eh?) For me, I was logging lots of miles on a cheapo hand-me-down 15-year-old bike. I certainly felt justified, though now I use it the other way around. Now that I have a fancy bike, I feel like I HAVE to ride it all the time to justify it.

Which is okay by me.