A Big Milestone

It seems appropriate that the ride that put me over 5000 miles was a slog. There are days like that, days you find yourself a long way from home and you’re not sure where the energy will come from to get you there. I’d fought a fierce headwind on Wednesday, and Thursday I was still feeling the effort. Man, I hate headwinds.

The traffic lights along Homestead were no help either as I plodded along, but since I had little momentum it was less annoying to lose it. Instead I waited, not winded (I was too tired to burn enough energy to require heavy breathing), and when the light changed in my favor I saddled up and with a moan I pushed ahead.

I catch myself moaning fairly often, in fact, especially when I discover myself in too tall of a gear when I pull out from a light. It’s not so much a moan of pain as it is a super-slo-mo version of a tennis player’s grunt, releasing from the diaphragm as one makes an effort. Only in my case the effort is stretched over a long period of time. “Uh-h-h-h” I sound like Frankenstein’s Monster as depicted in an old B-movie.

5000 miles. That’s a lot in 13 months; not bad at all for a gray-bearded somewhat-overweight dude. (This spring I entertained the idea of crossing that magical line before my bike’s first birthday, but April didn’t go too well, mileage-wise, and May wasn’t great either.) Next week I’ll cross another, perhaps more meaningful milestone: 100 miles for each year I’ve been on this planet. And I should be able to get the next 5000 before another year passes. (Although I won’t be getting many miles in June.)

You might think, with all that riding, that my legs would be really buff by now, but that’s relative. I still have skinny legs. They’re just a heck of a lot more muscular than they used to be.

I still have the newbie glow about my alternate lifestyle, that enthusiasm that makes commuting by bike more fun, not just cheaper and less frustrating and environmentally friendlier and healthier. This might be annoying to the people around me; I mention my bike fairly often in conversation and I’m a regular poster on Apple’s bike-to-work mailing list. The local bike shop knows my face, but they don’t see it as often as they used to. Gradually I’m getting more self-sufficient.

Toward that end, I’ll be taking a class on bike maintenance in July. I’ll be getting 18 hours of instruction by a trained expert while I work on my own bike from the inside out. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s run by a shop in town called Good Karma Bikes, a non-profit outfit dedicated to making the world a better place by providing transportation to people who can’t afford cars and by hiring emancipated foster kids and others who need a good start in life.

I’ve learned a lot since my last bike-milestone post, things like “always give the crossing guards a friendly wave and sometimes they’ll let you pass before stopping traffic,” but really there’s one lesson that stands out above all the others. I mentioned it in a post not long ago, but it bears repeating:

Just keep pedaling.

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2 thoughts on “A Big Milestone

  1. If you don’t have one already, I’d highly recommend buying a truing stand, if you’re going to do a lot of street riding. I have friends that do a number of riding fundraisers in interesting areas (NOLA is next), if you ever want the perfect vacation.

    • A coworker offered me a stand in exchange for a vegan meal, but I have yet to pounce on that offer. If I’m willing to adjust my schedule a bit and do my maintenance on a weekday, Good Karma has workstations and tools for me to use.

      Currently I spend almost all my vacation days on trips to writing camp, and there are trips I’d like to take with my sweetie that come next, but biking around interesting places and raising money at the same time does appeal mightily. Is there a Web site where I can learn more, or is it a mailing-list sort of group?

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