So it started July 14th, finally going down to the bike store and buying a bike.
That makes it sound too easy. Really, it started last year, I’d estimate July 19th, 2011. 6 days before, my wife had laboured through 17 hours of childbirth, coming to find out in the 17th hour that, no, neither of the epidurals she had been given had worked at all. It seems that the back surgery she had in 2005 made that impossible, only we found out after the fact. And that was with Pitocin, so her contractions were extra painful. After the emergency C-section, she gave birth to our miracle daughter.
After the mandatory 3 day stay in the hospital, we brought our bundle of joy (and all that other stuff) home. That morning of the 19th, it was my shift, and to give my wife some extra sleep time, I brought my daughter down to the basement, where we watched the Tour de France. I’ve been a Tour de France fan since the early 90s, though I really didn’t start paying major attention to it until 2001. It was hard not to while living in Austin Texas at the time.
Over those years my appreciation of the sport of cycling grew, admiring the Giro for its unrelenting hills, and the Vuleta for the sheer suffering the competitors ride thru during the dog days of Summer. But even before that, it was the Tour de Trump that probably started it all off.
I was home for a weekend in Richmond, VA to visit my mom. That Saturday we were out at Willow Lawn mall in the East end of Richmond, and noticed we couldn’t take our normal route home as the roads were blocked. When we got home, we realized that it was due to the Tour de Trump being run, drove back and watched what I think were a couple laps that the racers were running down Patterson Ave. Cheering for Greg Lemond the whole time, but was impressed by the 7/11 guys too.
So, the 19th of July started to stoke the fires. I was going to be turning 40 in a week, and my wife and I were so amazingly blessed to have our daughter in our lives, which got me to thinking; in your current state, how are you going to be alive let alone around for her and your grandchildren should she have any? Overweight and sedentary do not have a good likelihood of surviving another 40 years. That morning I told my wife of my plan; that I wanted to climb a Col or Cote of the Tour de France before I turned 50. She seemed supportive, but cautious, as my family is known for grand ideas and plans, but little follow through. And she’s right, as my work corner in the basement is full of half-started projects, or long abandoned hobbies, why would this be any difference?
After a hectic and very stressful year, my daughter’s first birthday was approaching. We were going to celebrate it in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, amongst our family. And it was a blast! Our cousins, her aunt and uncle, my aunts and uncle, close family friends, all showed up to celebrate. We had asked a close family friend, one of the best bakers in Rehoboth, to make a cake for the party, and then asked our now 16 year old flower girl to make our daughter an oversized cupcake for her smash-cake. Much fun was had that day.
The next day I drove down the road to the All Cycles Bicycle shop to visit the husband of our baker friend and owner of the store to see about a bike. I told him I didn’t want something that would discourage me from getting back into riding shape by keeping me off it, but something that would get me into shape at a reasonable price, with the expectation that an upgrade would be coming in the future. I test rode a Trek 7200, the 17.5″ version. Then rode a 20″ 7200. It felt better on the taller bike, but I really didn’t like the shifters, so while I was taking the 20″ 7200 out, he put a 20″ 7300 together for me to take out. The [amazon_link id=”B003ZMFO1A” target=”_blank” ]Shimano shifters[/amazon_link] made a heck of a difference. I still wasn’t sure about the hybrid front wheel fork, but appreciated the tougher tires, and like that, 2 hours and 4 test rides later I rode it to my aunt’s.
To say that it was a glorious ride would be bald-faced lie. That first ride, of probably a mile and a half told me all I needed to know of my fitness level. My legs were weak; I had trouble even standing up on the bike to stamp on the pedals after the first half mile. My throat was dry; my cardio fitness level was non-existent.
But… it felt so good to be on a bike again. That rush of wind as you turn up the crank (though in this case it wasn’t much), the feeling of speed, this is what would get me going again.
That night my youngest cousin and I rode a little circuit around the neighborhood. Talking about her summer and what she was going to do now that her sister was going off to Charleston for a week.
It felt good to finally start again.