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. 🙂
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill
“I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.” – Fred Rogers
Note: The thoughts and activities discussed in this post occurred in April, 2011.
The weather here in the mountains has finally warmed up, and dried out, enough for me to spend the time necessary to dig my old bike out of the storage building. It’s an 18 or more years old Huffy Snakeriver 18-speed mountain bike. If the dust it’s accumulated means anything I may be in for more than I can chew with it. It served me well many years back. Hopefully it can do so again now.
Since the time period referred to in my last post, Rediscovery, I spent a fair amount of what little free time I’ve had reading articles online about cycling, trying to learn about changes that have been made in the sport, what’s new for repairs and maintenance, things like that. I’ve also visited the bicycle sections of some major retailers to see what they have available compared to what I found online. Some of the items there were pretty much the same “old hat” I grew up with, some were things I have never associated with bicycles like LED or Halogen headlamps with batteries that last several days or weeks instead of only a few hours, clear and red strobe lights for the tail light, Kevlar in tires, self-sealing inner tubes, micro computers that tell you not only the bike’s speed, but what the average speed is, the time and date, your altitude, how long you’ve been traveling since your last stop (or the beginning of your trip), etc. Jeez, you’d think some of this stuff was made for the Special Forces bicycle brigade! lol
I’ve also been talking with other hikers who are cyclists when they’re not out hiking somewhere, getting their input, listening to their stories, and wishing I had regained my interest in cycling a long time ago. Each story I hear takes my mind back to a time when I could have been this person talking, telling others about last week’s or last month’s two-wheeled adventures. If you’ve never spent much time on a bicycle it’s hard to understand the freedom it brings, especially in these hard economic times when fuel is ridiculously high, and the feeling you get with the gentle breeze on your skin while cruising along listening to the sounds of nature all around you, something you seldom experience in a car. I know it will be quite a while as booked up as I am now, but I’m having a difficult time waiting to get back into cycling. As excited as I am about it I guess even if I could hit the road tomorrow it’d be too long a wait. 😉
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??? 😀