What was the day like when we discovered we loved cycling? I’ll bet a hundy yours was like mine. A warm breeze blew, the sun shone in perfection, and as the wind riffled through my hair I thought:

Hey, this is amazing.

Like with that electric first kiss, we fall in love and all we want is to be with our beloved. We sneak in rides before or after work, we get up earlier on the weekend, and at a certain point we notice something.

Hey, I’m getting faster.

Then came that first day when we thought:

It’s not that cold.

There was that first time we were caught in the rain, which made rolling from home in the rain just another discomfort, but not enough to ruin the ride. That taught us something different about cycling and helped us upcycle our definition of fun.

The big lessons didn’t come until riding the bike caused suffering. Whether the source was a pack going faster than I could sustain, or cold rain making each passing minute torture, the discoveries that proved I had more determination and more depth than I knew required such a day.

One revelation remains that I have yet to parse, one no one talks about.

That was awful. I can’t wait to do it again.

Image: Jorge “Koky” Flores, JustPedal

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  1. bart says

    I love this post. Gave me reason to think back to the rides where I went through the levels of this is amazing; I’m getting faster/stronger; It’s not that cold; and That was awful. I can’t wait to do it again. All vivid memories that put a smile on my face. The last step is the most memorable. Started an 80 mile ride with 50 degrees and overcast. Started raining at the turn around and dropped 10 degrees. I couldn’t shift the last 20 miles because my hands didn’t work. Huge smile on my face for the next 15 years any time I think about it. Ready to go again!

  2. Brent says

    I had two days like that. The first was in about 1980 when I climbed Kings Mountain Road in Woodside (CA) and got to experience the legendary downhill on Skyline Blvd and then down Woodside Rd. to where I left my car. I had just graduated from an all-steel Raleigh (steel included the rims!) to a Wisconsin-made Trek 614 with real components, plus clips and straps. I felt like I could fly. That feeling carried me through my 20s, and even motivated me to go cross-country on my Ritchey mountain bike. Unfortunately, kids and adult responsibility kept me off the bike for another 25 years.

    Cut to 2015, when, free of kids and newly single, I started riding again at age 55. The $500 mountain bike was replaced by a crisp, wonderful carbon road bike, but I wasn’t having much more fun and I wasn’t any faster. One day, while grumbling and complaining about having to do all this climbing in order to get to the good part of the ride (downhill or flats), literally, in the blink of an eye, my relationship to bicycling changed forever. I was noodling up the first big hill of my standard ride, about 6% for 200′ of total gain, and I realized that climbs were as integral a part of the ride as the “good stuff.” It was all the same; there was nothing inherently bad about hills. Pretty quickly, I saw my average speed increase about 5 miles an hour, when I stopped thinking of the hill as the barrier to enjoyment. All that mattered was turning the pedals; the grade underneath the wheels was of minor interest only. That moment has not left me in five years since.

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