Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

The Backstory
I'd always enjoyed riding bikes and have fond childhood memories riding with friends around the south shore of suburban Long Island. I remember the first time I was allowed to ride alone to a friend's house on the other side of town (a whopping 1.5 miles away), and the feeling of freedom that riding gave me.

While growing up I mostly rode around the neighborhood, to the nearby 7-11 (I was always a sucker for a Coke Slurpee) or in the park near my house, but at summer camp (in the beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires) I came to know the thrill of mountain biking and was on board from the start.  We'd ride the hills at camp and also head into the backwoods behind the cabins.  If I thought riding around the neighborhood was a good time, this was like Christmas - um, I mean Chanukah.


It probably isn't well-known, but Long Island actually has a fair amount of good-to-great singletrack mountain bike trails. After saving up some money, and with my parents help, I bought a shiny green Gary Fisher Big Sur.  It was way more bike than I needed - complete with clipless pedals - but damn was it cool.

I'll never forget my first ride on that bike.  I convinced my parents to let me ride it home while they went ahead of me in the car. After the short 3 mile ride I made it home to find them standing in the driveway awaiting my arrival. I proudly pulled in the driveway, came to a stop, and then ever so gracefully tipped over onto my side as I struggled to free myself from my the clipless - why the heck are they called clipless anyway - pedals which I was stuck in. 

I of course got used to the pedals and did my best to get out on the trails.  I met some other mountain bikers who I joined every once in awhile at Stillwell Spaghetti and the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail. While I never got seriously into mountain biking, it kept my interest in bike riding in general and certainly helped grow my infatuation with bikes themselves.

When I moved down to Miami in 2000, I brought the bike with me, and while it was still pretty cool, it just didn't seem right for our terrain (or lack thereof).  I occasionally made my way to Oleta State Park, but a 30 minute car ride just to get to the trails gets old fast.  My bike became mostly a commuter ride. I experimented with slick, thin tires, and other methods to make it quicker, but I eventually sold it and bought a road bike.

My first - and so far, only - road bike is a 2005 Specialized Allez Elite. When I first got it I rode every chance I had and loved the new found speed I was missing on the mountain bike.  I attempted to ride with some South Florida weekend warriors, but wasn't in nearly good enough shape and couldn't hang with the groups.  I continued to ride myself, but lacked the commitment and drive to stick to it at that time.

I continued to use the bike sporadically but eventually it became what I would call wall art, and my wife would call an eyesore.  I was eventually coerced into removing the bike from the wall and relocating it to storage (also known as our second bedroom).

Fast forward to where I left off on the Road to Running
It's 2010 and I had now been running regularly for some time. When a new LA Fitness opened up in Brickell a few minutes from our apartment, my wife and I joined up right away. I had taken part in my fair share of spinning classes before and was glad to see that our new gym had a handful of well-timed offerings. I started to spin a couple of times a week and kept this up for awhile.

Eventually my thoughts would wander to that shiny bike sitting in my apartment. How could I justify spending all this time on a stationary bike when I had one of my own that would let me enjoy Miami's year-round summer (when it's not raining)?  That was all the motivation I needed; I soon began replacing some spin classes with real rides.

Now onto the Duathlon.

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