Monday, March 10, 2014

Two Wheels

I love riding bikes, I long have.  I started riding before the age of 10 and have owned one or more bikes ever since.  I have not always ridden, there have been a couple of long spells of not riding, from my late teens into my late 20’s I didn’t ride, and from my late 30’s into my early 50’s, I didn’t ride.  

In my late 20’s I got fit, very fit.  I started riding as part of a workout routine. On my 30th birthday, I competed in my first sprint series triathlon, on a decent bike.  A few months later I bought a very-very fast racing bike. I had difficulty buying it, I was shopping and falling in love with bikes that were way past my needs and borderline beyond my abilities. A couple of shops tried hard to sell me something more in keeping with my age and ability.  I finally found the right bike and the right shop.  For several years after buying it I rode  two - three thousand miles a year.  My riding skills developed and under dry conditions, on good roads, I could put it anyplace I wanted to go, at 30 miles per hour.  I did two seasons of sprint series triathlons, culminating with completing the Coca-Cola National Spring Championship race in Boca Raton Florida. I still own it, I take it out once in a while to remind myself how fun and how fast it can be.  

I still own my first full sized bike, a red Schwinn Typhoon, that was a birthday present when I was about 12.  It was one of the last years that Schwinn made steel bikes in Chicago.

About three years ago, DC rolled out a bike sharing system.  For a $75 annual fee, I can pick up a bike from any parking station and drop it off at any station, as long as the ride is less than 30 minutes.  I have ridden bike share bikes over 2,000 miles.  

A couple of years ago, I bought a new bike. A street hybrid.  It a lite frame, sits upright, has decent components, and moderately narrow tires.  It is not nearly as fast as the racing bike, but it is much more stable.  It will ride on a variety of surfaces, you can go off onto the grass with it and easily maintain control.  It is my commuter bike, I ride it to and from the office when the weather is decent. I have also taken it out for longer distance rides, it is comfortable for two or three hours in the saddle. It is not the fastest, I average about 12 miles per hour on it.  I have taken it in the car on vacation a couple of times. I rode it about 1,800 miles last year.

This winter I bought another bike, I tiny little folding bike.  It is on 20 inch wheels, I hadn’t ridden 20 inch wheels in 40 years.  It is nimble.  It has a 7 speed drive-train, and easily folds up.  The DC subway system prohibits bikes entering the system during peak morning and afternoon travel times, except for folding bikes, folding bikes can enter the system at anytime.

So, yes I own four bikes. Two get ridden on a regular basis, the old Schwinn, I keep for nostalgia - it is almost an antique and I am the original owner.  It is a parade float, waiting for a parade.  The racing bike I ride once in a while to remind me what it is like to be fast and alive.  The folding bike and the street hybrid are my daily rides.  

It has been a long cold winter, it looks like Tuesday will be warm enough to ride to the office for the first time in a couple of months.  I will write about my commuting route one day.   

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