Several months ago I reached a saturation point with the guy in the mirror. He was clearly getting too fat. I was also staring my retirement directly in the face and didn’t want to be old, and fat, and on the couch. I wanted to LIVE and ENJOY my retirement.
When I lived in Japan about 6 years ago I was an avid runner, and bicyclist, and when I moved back to the US all those interests began to slide. It’s a lot more dangerous to ride in the US than it is in Japan and in fact on my very first bike ride in the US in New Bern, NC 6 years ago someone threw a bottle at me. On a Sunday morning, no less.
So I dedicate this post to Baron Karl von Drais who is credited with inventing the first bicycle called the “Draisine”. Too bad for him we don’t still call it that. Then again one of the guys who didn’t necessarily invent something first but made patented improvements on it may have something to say about having things named after you. Case in point. Thomas Crapper. People are forever still going to “The Crapper”. I’m not joking. Look it up.
Anyway, something had to give. I decided to buy a bicycle and give it a go.
My first “real” ride on the big boy roads was to a local church about 5 miles away. I came home from a 10 mile ride SPENT. But I felt good. Then it became my goal to work my way farther and farther away from home. I have since settled on a distance of about 25 miles for almost daily rides. Getting that far away from home requires some planning and you can see I have a rack and rack bag on ALL MY BIKES. It is safe to say that I now own MANY bikes.
THINGS TO PUT IN THE BIKE BAG:
- Spare Inner Tube(s) – you will get a flat. It is inevitable.
- Rubber gloves – You will get greasy changing that flat or fixing the chain
- Bike Multi Tool – I use CrankBrothes M19
- Tire Levers – for removing the tire
- Adapter for various types of inner tube stems
- Tire Pump or CO2 inflator – Just get the CO2 inflator.
- Cell Phone
- Snack of some kind like a Clif Bar.
- CREDIT CARD – I put that in all caps. You may find yourself needing an Uber, a repair, food, water, etc. Always carry the means to get yourself out of a jam. It is cool that phones and smart watches can let you pay for stuff but not everybody takes that method of payment. Also it is something with YOUR NAME ON IT in case something awful happens.
- Spare Batteries for lights, or GoPro. Yes I ride with a GoPro. If someone hits me at least the police will be able to see who.
- A spare brake or shifting cable – If you have a big enough bag, why not?
- Wind Breaker – again, if the bag is big enough, why not? Yesterday I got really cold after working up a sweat about an hour into the ride. Stop. Apply Jacket. Smile.
Anyway, your mileage may vary about what is in the rack bag. You may notice that 5 of my first 6 are DIRECTLY RELATED TO TIRE REPAIRS. More than likely that is what is going to get you. If you break a front brake cable (not likely)…….Use the back brake. If the bike doesn’t shift……ride home in whatever gear you are stuck in. Hell you can manually change the gear if you had to. About the only other thing that might really wreck your ride is if something came loose like your handlebars or something. But you aren’t getting far on a flat tire.
There are of course different bikes for different “missions”
The first bike everyone buys is a crap Walmart bike that looks like a mountain bike with shocks. Everyone thinks that’ll be cool until they actually ride said crap bike. The big knobby tires provide a metric shit ton of rolling resistance, the shocks works against you on the road and decrease efficiency, and oh by the way……….there is a sticker somewhere on the frame that says “THIS IS NOT A MOUNTAIN OR TRAIL BIKE”. Seriously. Looks like a mountain bike. Ain’t a mountain bike.
So, everyone makes that same mistake. If they find they enjoy biking then they’ll upgrade. But you kind of have to know what your preferred riding style is. I’m not much of a road bike guy even though I ride 25 miles almost daily. For one, I want that big rack bag on my bike, and secondly I like the more upright riding position. IT IS MORE COMFORTABLE FOR ME. Then finally I prefer my bikes to be utility bikes. I want to be able to run to the store and get a thing or two. I see me in retirement riding my bike to Lowes or Walmart to pick up that super small thing I bought on line.
Then there are FOLDING BIKES! These might be my favorite. They fold up in a nice little package and they will fit in the trunk of your car, back seat of your truck………..when I was in Japan I took them on the train with me.
I also found that some bars and restaurants would let you BRING THEM INSIDE. Take that, Mr. Bike Thief Guy. I recently went on a work trip to Beaufort South Carolina and our hotel was on an 18 mile multi use path. The guy I went with and I both took bicycles. I took one of my foldies and then returned home to foldie fever and just bought the bike pictured above. I want to camp with my lady and ride around the campground or river boardwalk with her.
Here is something I wasn’t expecting based on the photos I saw of this bike. I ended up getting the “Global Version” (not by choice, that’s what they sent me) and that’s all good, in fact it is REALLY GOOD because it has front attaching points for Rixen & Kaul or Kilickfix brackets.
Some years ago I bought an Ortlieb Ultimate 6 Classic bag which I can put to use again. Ortlieb bags are not cheap and their claim to fame is WATERPROOF.
It can be mounted with one of these brackets which I have on order. Much easier access to cell phone and wallet and stuff like that.
Boy do I love the foldies, especially as a guy who likes to go camping it is the bees knees not to lug around full sized bikes and they can be safely places inside the car or truck when not being used. Much more practical.
At any rate, this is not been a deep dive on bicycles………..it is just my blog on how biking has been saving my life. So far I’m down about 40 pounds and feeling better than ever. Bikes are fun and even at 58 years young I feel like a little boy out riding. What better feeling can there be than that? A temporary recapture of your youth, albeit just for a short time.