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How I started to Bike

  Pre-trip Notes


The Bike Route

My Ride Journal

News! Story Release! 


How I Started To Ride A Bike...  continued

Chapter II

    My very first biking season was over.  A lot had happened in those first months of bike riding.  I started to visit the local bike shops to see and learn about lots of accessories you could get for a bike.  Bike shop people are so friendly and helpful.  I did a lot of surfing on the Internet on the subject of bicycles.  There was a huge wealth of information on the web.  I sent in a subscription for Bicycling Magazine. One of the very first accessories I purchased after only a couple of days of riding on the towpath was a computer for my bike.  It would show me how many miles I cycled.  I kept a small notebook in which I would record my mileage after every ride and write a few comments about the ride.  It was after only a few weeks of riding and I began to notice the different pedal systems.  I was curious about the people who inserted their shoes into a cage-like affair that was part of the bike pedal.  And I saw others who had these strange looking pedals that they would step down on the pedal with a metal something that was attached to the bottom of their shoes.  The funny looking pedal would ‘clip’ their shoes to the pedal.  I got all the information from the bike shops.  I could see the obvious advantages of using this system.  It meant more power in turning the pedals.  Instead of just being able to PUSH DOWN on the pedal, now with shoe and pedal clipped together I could PULL UP on the pedal too.  Soon I purchased this Shimano pedal system, and special bike shoes to use.  It still remains the best purchase and single most helpful upgrade I have done to increase the enjoyment of biking. Then I needed things like a rear bike rack and a bike bag to set on the rack.  This was helpful in carrying my *stuff* – like a jacket, cell phone, kleenex, a bike lock.  Then there was the matter of keeping my bottom from hurting after riding on the bike saddle for more than an hour.  I made the switch to special bike clothing.  The shorts had a thick padded lining, called a chamois, in the crotch.  This certainly cushioned the ride!  But I also learned there are a lot of saddles out there, and by some trial and error I ended up with the most comfortable one. 

            All this additional equipment and accessories I was quickly adding made the biking experience a step up in being more comfortable, enjoyable and fun.  I was biking longer and longer more miles everyday.  My goal that first season was to ride the entire length of the bike trail towpath – from The Valley in Akron all the way to Rockside Road in Independence, just south of Cleveland.  That was 40 miles round trip and as far as the towpath was built, at that time.  (There is now more miles opened up in each direction)  To me it seemed an incredible distance to go on a bicycle.  I added to my mileage every day I went riding, and soon I could see it wouldn’t be such an impossibility to ride  40 miles.  Something else was happening during this time.  I started to feel the desire to go faster, go farther, spread my wings and really see MORE from the seat of my bicycle.  I wanted to go beyond the confines of the tree lined path of this bike trail.  I also wanted to know the mechanics of how a bike operates, and how to fix and take care of minor mechanical problems.  Just exactly how do you adjust this and that, and do tire tube changes and tube repairs?  I wanted to know.  It was fun talking to the bike shop people, and since my husband was as interested in this sport of bike riding, we shared a lot of information with each other.  We made a change from the big knobby tires that the bikes came with to a smoother tread tire.  What a different that alone made!  It made a huge difference in upping my average speed.  A lot less rolling resistance with the ‘City Slick’ type of tires.  Yes! I could go faster, and further!  

            A big exciting dream of adventure was making a way into my thoughts as I waited out those winter months of ‘98/’99 until spring when we could start biking again.  On the Internet I came across a journal written by a woman from San Diego, CA who decided she wanted to cross the country on her bicycle.  I read all about her plans to make that trip possible, how she found another cyclist to go on the trip with her, how she trained for her trip that would take her from San Diego to St Augustine, FL, and then she published her day to day journal of this cross country adventure on the internet.  What also impressed me was this woman was the same age as I was.  I began to think it wasn’t totally crazy out of the question for someone this *old* to do a cross-country bike trip!  With the new millennium approaching I started to entertain a dream of doing something big to mark the turn into the new century.  I wanted to ride across America on a bicycle!  And I would plan to do this the summer of two thousand and one. I thought, I may be over-the-hill, but I wanted to be Over The Hill. . .  on a bike!

            One thing led to another in my studying about biking and bicycles.  I was starting a search for a different type of bike.  A road bike.  You know, one of those bikes that the handle bars swoop down and you look like you ride all bent over!  Can you believe it, just the type of bike I told the salesman I did not want, back when I first walked in to a bike shop!  Come to find out this type of design is much more comfortable when riding for long distances.  I signed up at Century Cycles bike shop, first for their Basic, and then Advanced Bike Mechanics classes.  They were held in the snowy month of January ’99.  It was a good time to do something like this indoors, we certainly couldn’t be out biking.  It was a hands-on course, loads of fun taking my Schwinn bike all apart.  I learned such things as cleaning and repacking the hub and bottom bracket bearings, lubricating and adjusting the cables, taking a chain off and on, learning how to properly change a tire and repair a hole in the inner tube.  With a variety of bikes showing up for the class I learned a lot about what makes one bike more costly then the next, what was quality and things to avoid and what I wanted when purchasing my next bike.  One man who showed up for the Basic Mechanics class was an older gentleman.  He came to the class to learn how to change a flat tire.  He was also shopping for a new bike for his cross-country bicycle trip he said he was going to do come May.  He was no spring chicken this gentleman, in fact he said he would be celebrating his 75th birthday during the trip!  Just another confirmation that I too could do some multi-day bicycle touring at my comparatively *young* age.  He was signed up to go with the long distance bicycle touring company, Wandering Wheels.  In talking with this man he told me about his first multi-day bike trips were going on GOBA. The Great Ohio Bicycling Adventure is held annually in the month of June, and organized by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits.  He told me it is a circle trip of six days of biking, and each year is in a different area of Ohio.  He suggested to me this would be an excellent introduction into the joys of multi-day bike adventures.  I took home from the bike shop the brochure on GOBA 1999.  Just a note here:  Months later I was talking to a cyclist who had gone on the same trip across the US with Wandering Wheels.  I was curious if the 75 year old man I met months before had actually made the trip and rode his bike the whole way.  Yes, he did!  Isn’t that wonderful to be that fit, active and adventuresome in the golden years?  I was impressed.

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