|Me on my fixie "Kroptkin"|
Like a lot of kids I grew up riding bikes throughout my childhood, although it was basically just for transportation and not any sort of competition or as a sport. Back in those days in Vegas there wasn't a lot to do though, so my brothers, our friends, and I pretty much rode everywhere around town.
We were also kinda poor and so we didn't have the fancy multi-gear road bikes in those days. Basically, it was always a BMX bike with the big tires, single gear, and no brakes. One of the inevitable side effects of that which I remember from my high school days was that my thigh muscles were disproportionately large to the point that when I bought jeans I always had to make a choice between having them fit my thighs, but be really loose in the waist, or fit my waist, but be skin tight on my thighs.
|Me on my fancy road bike "Nicola Bartolomeo"|
But also like a lot of kids, once I was able to get a car I stopped riding bikes. Over the next few decades, I pretty much never even thought about cycling (something that seems to be a pretty common theme among cyclists I meet during rides). However, eventually a number of different things brought me back to cycling during the time that I was working as a truck driver.
Shortly after I began driving, I got rid of my car since I was on the road three weeks out of the month or more and it just wasn't worth paying the car payments for something I never really had a chance to drive anyway. As a result, I soon realized all the money that I could save without the car payment, insurance payment, registration fees, gas and maintenance costs.
In 2008, as the economy went south and fuel prices skyrocketed, I left trucking behind. Not being in a big hurry to resume all those expenses involved with owning a car, I went out and bought a cheap mountain bike.
Although it weighed a ton and was so cheap that it began falling apart inside of about six months, I soon began to reconnect with my childhood days spent racing around the neighborhood on a bike. It wasn't much longer before I upgraded to a Schwinn Prelude that I bought used and began riding almost exclusively.
Soon I was riding the "Blue Bomber" everywhere including 20 miles a day to work and back and had lost 40 pounds (most of which was due to the lack of exercise and decent food that comes with being an OTR truck driver) within the space of about nine months.
That bike served me very well up until early in 2012 when I locked it to a pole outside a grocery store as I had done hundreds of times before, went inside to pick up a few things, and came back out to find the pole very empty. My old reliable workhorse had been stolen by some heartless bastard!
My next bike, "Nicola Bartolomeo," is a Specialized Allez, which is a little fancier than the Blue Bomber. and a good deal lighter at 20 pounds. Now that I had a proper (albeit "entry level") racing bike,I started getting interested in doing some big miles. While I had routinely done 30 miles or more in a day and more often than not loaded down with a back pack full of stuff, those miles were usually split up between multiple short trips of 10 miles or less stretched out throughout the day.
After finding some cycling groups through Meetup.com, I set about making the transition to long distance riding. I was pretty pleasantly surprised to find that the transition was actually fairly easy. Between the somewhat slower pace ( I tend to ride as fast as I can on short rides) and lack of the weighted down backpack, it wasn't very long before I progressed to the point where I could easily ride 50 miles or more at least a couple times a week in addition to the typical daily mileage that I still put in while commuting around town.
In September of 2012, I accomplished a personal milestone by completing the 102 mile "century" course at the RTC Viva Bike Vegas ride. This marked the first time I had ridden more than 65 miles at any singular continuous ride. Not only did I finish what essentially amounts to the cycling equivalent of a marathon, but at the end I actually knew that I could have done a lot better if I hadn't paced myself so conservatively out of a concern that I would burn myself out early.
|A Recent Training Ride for the Tour de Cure - If you look closely you can see me in a yellow jersey by the guy in dark blue.|
Unfortunately, there was one complication that quickly arose. Basically, I started feeling paranoid about the possibility that someone would steal my new bike and that I might not be able to afford to replace it with a quality bike this time around. To a certain extent I solved that problem by buying some "Street Cuffs" a pretty much indestructible motorcycle lock, which looks like giant handcuffs.
However, this created a new problem because, while these locks are both intimidating and virtually impossible to cut off, they weigh 3.5 lbs. each and because the bike has quick release on both tires I bought two pairs. So, between them they weigh 7 lbs. and, between their size and my reluctance to scratch up my pretty new bike, it was complicated to carry them around. So I decided to shop around for a cheaper used bike that was already scratched up and wouldn't be quite as much of a tragedy if it went missing one day.
Ultimately, I decided that I should get a "fixie" partly because I wanted to have a change of pace and build up my legs a little on short rides and partly because I knew that I could get a fairly decent used one without spending a whole lot of money. "Kropotkin," a Tommaso Augusta Ninja track bike, soon became my bike for running around town. Some people refer to it as a "decoy bike" because it's less likely to be targeted by thieves, although it's actually a pretty nice bike in it's own right. (In case you didn't notice it's a ninja!) Also without all the extra gears and associated equipment, Kropotkin actually weighs only 15 lbs. (five lbs. lighter than my "racing" bike), although when you add in the weight of the chains and that backpack, they make up for that and then some most of the time.
Right now, between commuting on the fixie and those longer rides on the racer, I generally average between 200 and 300 miles a week. One of my goals is eventually to do a triathlon, although I'm not a big fan of the running part of it, which is a big part of why I haven't "dove into" that yet (I do swim like a fish, though). I'm also really interested in doing some bike tours at some point in the near future.
Note: The remainder of this post refers to the 2013 Tour de Cure, which I already completed. (In about 6 hrs 45 mins)
Currently, I am in the process of training for the American Diabetes Association's annual "Tour de Cure" ride to benefit diabetes research on April 27th. this will consist of my second century ride and I'm looking forward to this both as an opportunity to challenge myself and improve on my rookie effort at Viva Bike Vegas, as well as an opportunity to raise funds for a great cause. The latter reason is very personal for me because my mother suffered from and ultimately died earlier than she should have as a result of the complications from diabetes. I miss her very much and would very much like to see a cure soon so that other people and their families and friends don't have to suffer through its effects.
If you would like to donate to my fundraising goal (I've committed to raising $150), you can get to my profile page by clicking on either of the banners located at the top or bottom of this page. You can also use this direct link: My Fundraising Donation Page. In addition, if you are a cyclist yourself you can join the team I'm riding with (BikingHenderson.com) or enter a TDC ride in your area if you live outside Las Vegas. There are several distances for different experience levels. So you don't have to do the century distance if you aren't ready for it yet.