People get involved with cycling for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a practical, ecologically sound way to get around town. For others, group rides serve to satisfy the human need for companionship and the opportunity to make friends over a shared interest. There are those for which it provides an outlet for that competitive streak so many people possess. And of course there are individuals who look to stay fit while keeping in touch with nature, as well as the ones who never let go of the childhood joy of sailing down the road with the wind in their hair (let’s face it – most of us grew up pre-helmet laws). Yes, all these things draw people to hop on a bike and pedal their hearts out, but for me, it was something completely different.
I mean, while it’s only about six miles to work for me, I have a five year old who needs to be dropped off at school and I cart large bags of heavy books to and fro on a daily basis. At this point in my life it doesn’t seem practical to be a bike commuter. Then there’s the fact that I work with people, lots of teenagers to be exact; all day, every day. While it does me good to socialize with people my own age, I’m often too exhausted to make meaningful or even intelligent conversation by the end of the week, and many people are put off by the fact that I have the sense of humor of a 15 year old boy. Yes, I don’t normally go out of my way to put myself in situations which require me to socialize. And in regards to athletics…well, I’m just not an athlete. I rarely have a desire to compete with others (not in a healthy sense) and I am, truly, quite clumsy – not qualities that make others seek me out for their team (though I once was asked to join a bowling league because one of the teams was short a female).
The thing that got me involved with cycling was a man…The Perfect Boyfriend (TPB), if you will. Yes, I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t somewhat embarrassed by this fact, though there are far worse things people (myself included) have done for love. To be fair, I do like to balance my days of complete lethargy with some physical exertion. My biggest problem with exercise is that I get bored…quickly and relatively easily. Over the years I’ve lifted weights, participated in strength and conditioning classes, done aerobics, yoga, and Zumba, as well as a bit of swimming, till it destroyed my hair. I do stay far, far away from running, as it brings back many painful memories of Mr. Armentrout’s sophomore PE class. But cycling? I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a teenager, and I just didn’t know how I felt about the idea. I rode my bike everywhere when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it, but cycling requires the ability to balance, and balance is something I’ve struggled with more and more over the years.
TPB never tried to force cycling on me; in fact, if he had tried to force me to do anything, he’d be far from perfect and I doubt I’d be referring to him as my boyfriend. But I can say that conversations where cycling didn’t come up, at least at some point, were rare, if they even existed at all. Admittedly, I was entertained and rather delighted by his passion. There is no mistaking that this man loves bikes. So one day I was listening to him talk about this and that cycling related thing and the next thing I knew I found I was actually interested in what he was talking about. I don’t mean that whole I’m-interested-because-he’s-talking thing, but that I was actually interested in the topic. The next thing I knew, I was thinking about going out for rides with him. Me, yes me, actually getting on a bike after all these years.
So over the course of six months, I had developed an urge to get out there and ride. Not an urge to get rid of my car, or to start racing or participating in 100+ mile rides, but a desire to go out, enjoy the day, and have some fun riding around with TPB. I made up my mind; for my birthday, I was buying myself a bike.