Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How bikes came into my life

I would have to say bikes came into my life long before I started riding. The reason I started riding was, in a word "envy" my husband and son were having lots of fun and I was left out of most of it. My path to the bike is much like anything else in my life, slow and indirect.

I rode a bike when I was a kid because Mom's weren't taxi's when I grew up and if I wanted to get somewhere it was either walking or biking. I did a lot of biking, even some off road although back then we didn't know it was called mountain biking. It's funny that I can't remember what my bike looked like but I remember my brother's bikes. They were yellow and had a banana seat, and I liked them better than mine. I think I stopped riding when we moved to GA and our house was in a canyon which meant to get anywhere it was like biking up Mt. Everest. That was the end of biking for many years.

As an adult I think we attempted biking twice and bought nice hybrids which were probably ridden 2-3 times before they went into mothballs and eventually sold. My oldest son Adam rode all over town, but seemed to always forget his lock so we purchased a few bikes for him. My youngest son Jacob decided once the training wheels were off of his bike he was done with it. He has always been a cautious kid and with a daredevil older brother, I allowed him to take the safe path.

Then came middle school for Jacob, which was as far away as it could be without needing busing. We made a deal, I would do carpool for 6th grade, but come 7th grade I would carpool in the fall, but when the weather turned nice he needed to start walking or we would get him a bike. His favorite color was yellow and we got him a nice yellow mt bike. He continued to ride it the 2 miles back and forth to school and that was it, until High School.

The summer of 2007 forever changed our family. My hubby, Javier, who I usually just call Jav, decided he was too fat. He had high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and was pre-diabetic. That summer we took separate vacations, Jacob and I went on a cruise to Alaska and Jav stayed in Seattle to race R/C cars. I think between us having such a wonderful time and there being a few too many egos at the race, then seeing the photos and realizing he was getting really big. He decided one day it was time to do something. We love food too much to diet to aggressively, so it was off to the gym 2 hours a day 5 days a week, and the pounds starting melting off. Jacob and I were also struggling with out weight, but we were at this point die hard couch potatoes.

Then High School starts, Jacob wants to go to UCLA and so my super shy kid must find something to get involved in. He unfortunately let a friend talk him into avoiding club day which would have been a great opportunity to see what the school had to offer. So, I decided to put him on restriction until he joined 2 clubs. A day or two later he came home with the news he joined the French Club and the Mountain Bike Club. Yep, the kid who had never ridden more than 2 miles and never on anything but a side walk joined a mountain bike racing team. We were thrilled when our couch Jim Winnie told us that they didn't have to race, but could just be part of the club, because this was about getting kids on bikes. Much to our surprise Jacob loved it and he didn't care that he was slow and had minimal skills, he was having fun. Jav decided he would join them and they both got new bikes, for those of you who care they were Trek hardtails, but that's about all I know about them. We were suddenly involved with an amazing group of families with a lot of kids like ours, these are generally kids who are not stick and ball type athletes. Double bonus the staff advisor Chris La Fazia was Jacobs health teacher, so anything he said about nutrition was the gospel. Many changes were made that year in our eating habits and our free time.

Over the next few years Jacob went from a kid who wouldn't go off a curb to a middle of the pack mountain bike racer and from a chubby kid to a muscular athlete with an ideal BMI. Jav also picked up skills and fitness along the way. Not long after the mountain bikes were purchased they learned that road bike riding is a good training tool, so they got one of those too, and I suddenly seemed to be spending a lot of time alone. Jav started riding with a group the Sacramento Bike hikers, that a former R/C friend rode with, but then he started finding more groups around our area and before long, you couldn't go anywhere without Jav running into someone he rode with. I started meeting some of his cycling friends and they were all so friendly, I wanted to be a part of it.

One day we were in a bike shop and I was looking at things and showed Jav a cute jersey and said "If I could were cute things like this then maybe I'd ride". Well that was all it took, we spent the rest of the day bike shopping. I wound up with a pink and white jersey with a dog coming out of the back pocket and a white and pink bike, a Specialized Dolce, I really wanted the other model, because it was a cuter color, but Jav insisted I needed to get the upgraded components. As I mentioned before I was a complete couch potato so he whole bending over a real road bike bars was a bit much with my lack of core strength, so the shop put a pair of panic breaks on the top of the bars. Sorry for not knowing all the technical terms, but I think you get the idea.

I had the bike for over a year before I finally started riding regularly. I did take it to Markleeville for the first Death Ride and I got my first lesson on gears. I wasn't trying to go up any of the passes, just the 500' elevation from the town to the ride start. It wasn't pretty, other riders kept passing me asking if I was OK, one guy in a very concerned voice asked "you aren't riding tomorrow are you?" 

July 2010 was the beginning of my real riding. My wonderful husband decided to dedicate his time to helping me get started. By this time he had completed 2 Death Rides, and Jacob had completed 1. Jav was riding a lot with the Hammerin Wheels group, and he started setting up local, short, slow rides for me. My first ride was July 30th, it was 12 flat miles and took me about 2 hours. A year later I had ridden 1191 miles and my average was 12.5 mph. In October I did my first metric century the Davis Foxy's Fall ride with an 13.6 avg speed.

I really have to say, as someone who has never liked anything that was considered exercise, I like to bike. It took several months for it to move from loathe, to tolerate, to enjoy. The people we ride with makes all the difference. I don't know if it is all the endorphins or because you get to eat a lot of desserts when you ride for several hours or if they were genuinely nice people before they got on a bike, but they sure are a happy group.

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