Between days-long rainstorms and dinners with friends visiting from out of town, I haven’t been able to do more than gaze longingly at the bike I got on Saturday. After almost a week, I was anxious to take it out on a ride. Would it be as good as I’d hoped? Would my knees hold up? Would I notice the difference between this bike and my old one? Tonight, finally, the stars aligned and I went for spin on my old running trails.
Oh man. OH MAN!! This bike is awesome. Mind-blowingly awesome.
Was it as good as I’d hoped? Way better. Did my knees hold up? Yep. They felt better on the bike than they do when I’m lying in bed. And my old bike? Not even in the same class. It’s like I went from an old station wagon to a sports car. Seriously, when I hit my first straight-away and could really let her rip, I had the same “holy cow, so this is what all the hype is about” moment that I had the first time I drove in a Maserati.
Which brings me to something new that I learned about myself: I like going fast. Who’d have thought? As a fly-weight pushing around a heavy bike, I’d always congratulated myself when I could maintain 13 miles an hour, and I told myself that I was more into distance than speed. This new bike weighs virtually nothing and it’s super fast. It was fairly easy to maintain between 18 and 20 miles an hour, and when I sprinted on a flat stretch I got up to 30 miles an hour (I want to go back and try that on a hill…). Those speeds may be nothing for more serious cyclists, but they were exhilarating for me (and admittedly a teensy bit terrifying when you realize that your feet are locked into pedals that come with a warning about how they won’t automatically release in the event of a crash, and the rest of you is covered in only a thin layer of Lycra).
Of course, this was still my first bike ride in seven years, so my performance was by no means polished — I did not maintain pace well (nor did I even try, most of the time), my gear-shifting on the hills was atrociously inefficient, and my dismounts from those clipless pedals were far from graceful (no falls, though). After about an hour, I’d gone 15 miles and was ready for a break from the low crouch of the road bike. So there’s lots to figure out and plenty of room for improvement. I’ve purchased a couple of books that should give me some pointers to get me off to a good start, and I’ve got some friends who are serious cyclists as well — I’m hoping that once I get used to riding more regularly they’ll be willing to take me along on their training rides. Who knows? Maybe by the end of the summer I’ll be ready for a race.