I have enjoyed biking pretty much my whole life. Ever since my sister Pat taught me how when I was seven or eight, I've always liked the sense of freedom and wandering that a bike provided. I've written short stories and poems centered around the pleasure of pushing pedals.
My first bike was a gold stingray knock-off that my mom got at a Super America gas station, I think. I loved the bike with its 20 inch tires, metallic gold flecked paint and a banana seat. Unfortunately, a year or so after I got it someone stole it virtually right in front of me. A couple of teenagers were walking down the street, one on a bike, one not. The one walking just hopped on my bike while I was playing in the yard and they both sped off. It was an early lesson in how people are capable of brazen theft and meanness.
A couple of years later, I got a much bigger bike, a 26" 3 speed Huffy. It was a big, geeky bike that I made geekier by adding a battery operated headlight, odometer and a flag to the back. I was always jealous of other kids' cool bikes, but Mom always said, rightfully so, that I was too big for a bike like that. This was a much better fit.
Ever since those days I have owned a bike of one vintage or another. I've also owned a heavy lock as well. One doesn't make that mistake twice in a lifetime.
My current bike is a Trek mountain bike that I have grown to love. However, I am beyond the years where a lot of trail-crashing off roading seems appealing. I think if I were to get another bike, it would be a cross-bike - a hybrid between a mountain bike and a road bike. Get me to work and out on the paved trail, but keep me in an upright riding posture as well.
Today I went down and watched a little of the bike races in downtown Waukesha. It is a sport I enjoy watching but never aspired to do. I am not a group rider. I am not a team rider. I ride alone and I ride to be alone. I told some friends once, I don't even like to say "On your left," when passing a rider. I ride to think, to be introspective and to relax. Having someone pacing me or cheering me on is not what I need. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
But watching these guys gave me an appreciation for all the training and discipline they have to partake in. It's a grueling sport of speed and finesse and position. I give them credit, they're better people than me.
And I'm okay with my 10 mile rides after work. It keeps me sane.