Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of Cycling

In just a couple of hours, I will be heading out for a group ride. While yesterday we experienced unseasonable weather with temps in the 70's, more reasonable weather rolled in in the evening and it will probably be more in the 50's with fairly significant wind. Nevertheless, a ride with friends (everybody who shows up on a bike at a group ride is a friend unless they prove otherwise...) will be a good way to spend some time no matter what the weather.

I decided to build my Trek steel frame back up as a single speed. It's a plain gray color now, a far cry from the teal with lavender lug cutouts paint job that it originally sported when I found it "under" the tree on Christmas Day in 1986. Golden laughed at me when she found me in the basement running brake cables on it late Thursday night. "You can't stand seeing a bike frame unbuilt, can you?" she said. That made me think of a picture I had seen that same day.

The librarian I work with, Karen, was discarding old books from our collection and placed a very old book about cycling on my desk. It was a british book from the '80's and it's buying advice was predominately toward buying anything with the word Campagnolo on it. But the first picture in the book was of the interior of a bike shop with rows of steel bike frames hanging from the ceiling. I remember walking into bike shops set up the same way. Those rows of frames represented limitless possibility to me. A frame can be built up with an infinite number of parts in an infinite number of configurations, but they all come together in a harmonious whole that ultimately represents freedom. I have never lost that love of being mobile by my own strength, flying just above the ground under my own power. Cycling will be the longest running love affair of my life.

Last year, I set a goal to ride outside at least 1 mile every day. I rode 365 days in a row for a total of 4200 miles. This year, I've set a goal to run 1 mile outside every day, plus ride as much as I can and my goal mileage is 4500 miles. Running is much more of an effort than riding. It isn't a habit like riding is for me.

scene from my morning commute
I ran to work on Thursday. Several of my colleagues came to me concerned when they saw me walk in without a bike. One teacher had passed me running in her car and panicked thinking that something had happened to me on my morning ride and that I had abandoned my mangled bike somewhere and started running in to work. She was upset when she came to check on me. Once I explained to people that I ran to work instead of riding, I sensed my already tenuous label of "eccentric" veering dangerously close to "crazy". Oh well...
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