Thursday, February 25, 2010

Steady Progress

After an 8 year hiatus for personal reasons, I purchased a new bicycle on March 26th, 2007. (The picture is me riding that bike on January 1, 2008). I had previously been a cycle commuter and had ridden several century rides. Now, 8 years later, I wanted to pick up where I had left off and perhaps move ahead to fulfill a few dreams I had carried around for some time.

I wanted to get my riding body back (I had allowed my weight to balloon to over 240 lbs.) I wanted to get my century legs back. I wanted to start a bicycle club. I wanted to ride longer and longer distances. All of this would take time, effort, and the cooperation of my wife. I kept moving forward.

Over the next several months I lost the extra weight. I progressed from a long ride of 45 miles to 62 miles to a full century by May 2008. I made new cycling friends and by November 2008 we started River To River Cycling Club which was incorporated as a Not for profit incorporation in the state of Illinois by January 2009. That cycling club is still around and is being ably run by others who have joined the club since.

I also purchased two more bicycles. I had purchased a mountain bike in 2007 which I began turning into a commuter bike. By the spring of 2008 I was frequently commuting to and from Benton where my truck was parked. I managed to get onto local television and the front page of the local newspaper in support of bicycle commuting. By that fall, my truck was moved closer and I was able to sell my car and commit to daily full commuting. In 2008 I purchased a fully carbon road bike which enabled me to keep up with faster riders on group rides (and look really cool in the process.)

By June of 2009 I had kept a promise to myself and had developed the fitness to ride to Metropolis to participate in the Superman Ride for a total of about 170 miles as a one-day effort and in August I rode to Mt. Vernon to participate in the Kiwanis Fun Day Century for a total of over 220 miles on the day.

In 2008 I joined RUSA, a national organization for long-distance riders and began trying to establish a franchise in my home area. By February 2010, I had received certification on a couple of routes for riders, and two riders from out of state had driven into Marion to ride one of my routes. In May and July of this year, RUSA will hold two rides starting out of Marion for their riders to participate in.

And along the way were several smaller goals: I kept changing the components on my mountain bike with a view to using it for long distance riding and in February I rode it for RUSA credit on a 126 mile ride. I wanted to develop the fitness to ride out of my area to ride with someone else in their local area. Last week I rode north to ride with a friend for a total of 140 miles on the day. And so on.

As I look behind me, I'm satisfied with the steady progress I've been making. Not finished - but satisfied. So far.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

140 miles in February

All I need to be happy is three things: some blue sky, an open road to ride...

And a good friend to ride with. This is Mike McKee. He's more than a cycling friend, he's a friend.

This gentleman rolled in to the TK Mart in DuQuoin on this fine ride. When I commented on his bike, he proudly told me it was from Western Auto. You can see his pride in the way he posed beside such a fine ride. I always wanted a bike just like this from Western Auto. I guess that's why I like riding Zeke so much with fat tires on it. In some ways it's my dream bike.

Some antique bikes in a store in DuQuoin. The "Whizzer" had a small gasoline motor in the main traingle. Pretty cool bikes.

Mike had asked me previously if I "minded a little gravel". Of course I don't. Mud however is another thing. Some of the mud was deep and soft enough that I worked hard at staying upright. I use Speedplay cleats, and the least amount of dirt makes them unusable. I could only imagine the mess I'd be in if I had to unclip and put a foot down. If you're interested in improving your bike handling skills, get Mike to take you for a ride sometime.

You can see the results of the "roads" Mike has chosen for us on the back of his bike and seatbag.

We need to encourage young riders when possible. The only way our sport grows is by adding new riders. We especially need to encourage young females. Perhaps Brooklyn will be an Olympic Track Gold Medalist someday, and this ride around the block will have been a good start.

Rend Lake still has ice close to shore. It wasn't far from here last year when I reached the magic 200 mile mark on my big ride that I promised myself that if I made it home safely, I'd never ride long distance again. So much for promises.

At the final stop at the Benton Casey's I finally looked at my bike carefully. This will take some cleaning today, and I don't ride cyclocross. At least I didn't until today.

After 140 miles on the bicycle, Marion streets look mighty fine to me. It was a really good day in February: blue sky, open roads to ride, and a friend to ride with. Thanks, Mike.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Riding With Support

Article 6 of the RUSA Rules For Riders says that all riders must be self-sufficient. I'm hoping that they only mean during the ride. I will have to admit that I'm not very self-sufficient off of the bike. Gratefully, I have a wonderful wife without whom I couldn't even consider all the riding I do, not to mention chasing the goals I've laid out.

Recently I saw two boxes of new checks on the kitchen table. When I asked about them, my wife said she had ordered them because we were almost out of checks. I had no idea how many checks we had left; I would have had even less idea where to order more from. But Carmel knew the answer to both questions.

This year I have several "projects" I'm working on.
  • There's "Project 365". I intend to ride every day this year without missing a day.
  • There's "Project R-12". I intend to ride at least one 200 kilometer or longer ride each month for the entire year to obtain the RUSA R-12 Award.
  • There's "Project SR". I intend to ride the entire brevet series (200K, 300K, 400K, 600K) this year to obtain the RUSA Super Randonneur Award.
  • There's "Project 10,000". I intend to ride 10,000 miles total during 2010.
And "I'm a soldier in the war on poverty". My boss (not to mention my bill collectors) expect me to show up for work on every scheduled workday, and most of those workdays are 10 - 12 hours long.

Finally there's "Project Mama" as in "if Mama isn't happy - ain't no one happy". That means taking care of our little piece of heaven in Marion Illinois. Building projects take up a lot of time and energy, but are absolutely necessary.

That doesn't leave much time for figuring out whether or not we need checks, or anything else. Gratefully, God has given me a wife who is more than capable of taking care of our lives and our business while I enjoy cycling the second half of my life.

Thank You, Lord.

Thank you, Carmel.