“You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” – Ronald Reagan
The season is finally ending. No, I’m not talking about summer, although that is also the case. I’m referring to the “hot and heavy” business season. Most years I hate to see it go, but this year is somewhat different. I’ll miss my regular clients, as well as meeting new clients which sometimes become new friends as well, but this time around I’m looking forward to leaving behind the rush-rush and enjoying the slower pace of autumn. For some reason mother nature has been tugging at me stronger than usual, so I’m finding it difficult to wait until I have time to get out into some of the more remote areas and simply enjoy my surroundings. I think I’ll do much more riding this fall than usual. While out conducting business I’ve been making notes on places I’d like to revisit. Hopefully most of those notes will be followed through on. What this means to you, my followers, is more ride reports complete with pictures and descriptions of the areas visited. Be patient. My “season” isn’t quite over yet, but it won’t be long. 🙂
Note: The thoughts and activities discussed in this post occurred in mid February, 2011.
The weather today was gorgeous for this time of Winter. It was fairly warm with bright sunshine and only a few fluffy white clouds floating around a deep blue sky. Today was a shuttle day. A couple of hope-to-be thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail needed a shuttle from the Atlanta airport to Springer Mountain, the Southern terminus of “The” trail a few miles outside of Dahlonega, GA. The ride typically takes about 3 hours so we had plenty of time to talk and discuss a variety of subjects. When we finally got out of the heavy Atlanta metro traffic, and onto the half-way deserted two-lane roads, our talk turned to the weather and the natural beauty which surrounded us. We were in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains now. The winding road rose and fell as the miles clicked on with each curve unfolding a vibrant new scene before us.
A few miles from our destination we came upon a group of cyclists peddling hard up the mountain road. As I cautiously passed the cyclists, my hikers began discussing biking trips they had taken in preceeding years. I listened as they described the grandeur of places they visited, the friendliness of people encountered, and the thrill of completing different types of road courses. My mind flashed back to the days I rode my bike often, days I took the time to enjoy some of the simpler things, days I not only biked through small towns and observed the old historic buildings, but stopped at a small family owned cafe or diner for a snack and to talk with people gathered there. Whatever happened to those days? I have always thought of myself as being basically the same now as I was last year, 5 years ago, even 15 years ago. Something was different now. Somehow I had changed without realizing it, becoming much like the person I told myself back then I would never become, rushed and too busy for the things that matter most. I missed those old times. Is it true you can never go back? Possibly, but you can always try to recreate them again if you have the gumption.
After I dropped the hikers off for the start of their 2,100 plus miles of adventure and discovery I headed home, my mind filled with memories of past excursions on my bike, some of them long, others short, but all were fun and exciting in their own unique way. My hikers may be on a path of discovery but I had discovered something also. Feelings were surfacing I hadn’t experienced in years, and it felt good, really good. I wanted those experiences back. I had to have those experiences back. I would get those experiences back, along with the excitement, exploration, and adventure that had been put on the back burner oh so long ago. My mind’s made up. I’m going to pursue this thing everyone now calls cycling. I have a bike somewhere in my mini-warehouse that needs to be dug out of all the mess, cleaned up, then ridden. There are websites to visit, stores to browse, and miles of roads just waiting to be explored. Yep, a good dose of rediscovery is just what I need. 😀
The basis for this blog is cycling, more specifically “old school” or “shoestring budget” style cycling, with a purpose. If you are like I am; out of practice, out of shape, stuck with an old bicycle, yet still have a deep burning desire to get out there and cycle around, great! You’re the type of person I primarily wish to talk with. Of course if you’re an “old hat” when it comes to cycling, and are in olympic athlete condition, I also welcome your readership. In fact I would greatly appreciate your advice, tips, and other comments. If you fit into my original summation but your spirit is willing and you are without a bike all is not lost. There are several organizations out there who will either give you a used bike, or you can purchase one for pennies on the dollar. For example, Goodwill, various hospital thrift stores (which is where I obtained my trunk mounted bicycle carrier for only $5 USD), and Habitat For Humanity’s Restore locations get good bikes in occasionally. If they don’t have one available sometimes they will know someone who has one they would be willing to donate to you, or put you on a list to be notified when one is received. Even a few bike shops get trade-ins or know a customer who has a used bike they would like to see go to a good home. Ask around. You may be surprised who would be glad to help you out.
The crux of the matter is this; you do Not need to have a brand new bike to enjoy cycling, or to be a part of helping someone else achieve some added joy in their free time while acquiring a new level of freedom or accomplishmet. I know this is contrary to popular belief, but It Does Not Matter what type of bicycle and optional equipment you have as long as the desire to get outdoors and cycle is in your blood, and you are doing it safely! For some, cruising up and down a neighborhood street on a single-speed bike is fun, to others like me the possiblility of traveling to new places, and seeing new faces, is the draw. I’m looking forward to cycling some of the lesser traveled streets, roads, and by-ways in my home area, but I’m absolutely ecstatic about getting back to the ocean-side roadways, listening to the surf, and feeling the ocean breeze on my skin while cruising along at a leisurely, enjoyable pace. Of course, a lot of places I will be riding aren’t actually new to me, but the sights certainly will be at 5, 10, or 15 miles per hour on my bike instead of 30 or 60 mph in a car. It’s amazing what architectural details and natural beauty a person can see when they’re not speeding by at a break-neck speed. Occasionally I will hike along a roadway which I have driven often. There are always things I see that elicit the reaction of, “Wow! I never saw that there before!” or “I didn’t realize this area was so pretty”. The same holds true with cycling. For me, that’s a tremendous draw and a part of the adventure.
In case you’re wondering, I will be using a stock 18-speed Huffy mountain bike that’s at least 18 years old at the time of this post. It will be outfitted with military surplus Alice packs I already own attached to the rear instead of the more modern Panniers for carrying the items I will need for my journey, and discount store water bottles/mounts attached to the seat and down tubes. I haven’t decided yet whether to attach a tire pumpI already own to the forward portion of the top tube or store it in one of the packs. It had been near the seat, but was not as handy to access while on the move as it may seem . Yep, my bike will have more drag, be heavier, and nowhere near as pleasing to the eye as many of the other bikes I’ll meet on the road, but it will be uniquely mine. I seriously doubt you’ll see another one like it on the road, OR in the junk yard. lol Most of the more experienced touring or racing cyclists can’t honestly claim uniqueness for their bikes. Sure, their bike may be the newest, lightest, fastest, and most aerodynamic model available but aside from its color and possibly a different type of pedal, grip, or other such item than it came with, the bike itself will be just like a thousand other bikes out there unless it’s custom-built to their specifications. I don’t care about all that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the newer bikes, or those that ride them. If that’s what you have or want, great! It’s just not my personal style or preference. When I schedule rides, every one of all ages, sex, race, bike style, etc. are always welcome. To use an old cliché… the more the merrier. Ok, I’ll admit that sometimes I daydream about getting a new bike that’s hassle free, shiny, and comes with a warranty, but then I realize it’s just the new bike smell getting to me. 😉 After all, what’s better than a bike that’s paid for, a classic, and uniquely you??? 😀
Hello, and welcome to my blog. The theme here is “old school” or “shoestring budget” cycling, with a goal. This is a first for me. I’ve visited other blogs from time to time but never hosted one. Together we will trace my journey from re-discovering a much-loved activity (bicycle riding… or “cycling” as it’s called now) from more than 15 years ago (and almost 1,000 miles away from where I now live), through the realization that this activity could lead to what I feel is a much-needed service for millions of Americans, then hopefully on to the implementation of this idea/service. From that point who knows? Hope we find out together! 😉
There are really only three rules here: 1) This blog is intended for all ages so when commenting keep it G rated. 2) Stay on topic. 3) No spam or advertising. If you follow these rules you’re welcome to comment as often, or as sporadic, as you wish. If you don’t follow these two rules your comments and/or link will be deleted.
This initial post to my blog will be followed as soon as possible by an About Me page. [Now Posted] My schedule is currently rather full, or I should say haphazardly full… some days I barely have time to eat, others start out at a frenzied pace then fizzle to near-boredom. You’ll see what I mean as we go along and delve into my lifestyle and activities. For now I will be adding posts/pages as free-time permits, making a concerted effort to do so at every opportunity, so please check back often for additions. I’m not sure what all to put into the About Me page other than basic information about myself, so if anyone has a suggestion as to what should, or should not, be posted please feel free to let me know. Like I said above, this “thing” is a first for me. lol
After I post the About Me page I plan to explore more about the reasons behind starting this blog on a page to be titled “Purpose”. [Now Also Posted] I believe you’ll find this a bit more interesting than the About Me page so please check back soon.
Out of necessity, since I started this blog in August, 2011 and can’t back-date/start the entries in the late winter/early spring of this year when my journey actually began, the first few blog entries other than the “About Me” will be sort of retro entries. I’ll discuss the thought processes which occurred then as if they’re happening now. It will be obvious when I catch up to the current time.
In conclusion, as blogging is something I currently know little about, I’m open to suggestions regarding the addition of widgets, links, photos, etc to this blog. When suggesting these things please be specific, and if possible include some information about the item(s) you’re suggesting, such as how they’re implemented, what they do, and/or why you feel your suggestion would be a good addition here. Also, if you like what you read here, please let me and your fellow readers know by “liking” this blog below, and sharing it with your friends.
A Facebook page has been set up for this blog which contains photos, most of which are full-size whenever possible, and in the future a bit more information than is found here. Please visit that page when you have a chance. I’ve noticed recently (Winter 2011) that for some reason Facebook keep changing my page to “unpublished” periodically. Each time I find this I correct the problem by re-publishing it and notifying Facebook about the problem. Hopefully they will resolve the issue soon. If you try to visit the page and it’s not available please drop me a note and complain to Facebook about the problem, then check it again in a day or two.
Thanks for the time you took to read this. I hope to “see” you here again soon as you follow my adventures in the world of cycling!