About a year ago, with the encouragement of some friends, I purchased a road bike. It was a Cannondale CAAD8 Sora 7. It was relatively affordable, a little too big for me, and I decided to start riding it. I started slow, exhausting myself after riding for 2–4 miles around the neighborhood, avoiding any hills, and purchasing or borrowing cycling clothing. Nobody tells you that the bike is just the beginning of cycling expenses (or maybe they did tell you, but you didn’t believe them).
Within a few weeks I had made my way outside the neighborhood and done one 13 mile group ride. It was dark and cold, and I struggled to finish. It felt like the hardest thing I had ever done. The group I began riding with, Texas Cycling Tribe, was very patient. I kept going out on the bike, two or three times a week. Soon enough, it was time for a Spring Training Trip out west to Marfa, Texas. I tagged along, rode a bit and took pictures for the crew.
I continued riding. It was hard work, but I could feel myself getting stronger and it started to feel like something I needed to do. I began to do more solo rides on the country roads north of where I live, in the Hill Country northwest of Austin. There’s not much traffic and plenty of livestock to chat with out there.
I started being able to hang with the group and not constantly fall behind in the team rides. And then the rules of cycling began to settle in. N+1 is the seemingly immutable rule that the correct amount of bikes to own is the ones I’ve got, N, plus one more. I started looking into upgrading my bike. I wanted more gears, the Cannondale was 2 x 9, to be able to keep up on descents. I wanted a carbon frame and a rotating list of features that I can’t now recall. I would look at bikes at every opportunity, taking mental notes and planning my ever more inevitable upgrade. In the meantime, I kept riding.
I went to Utah for my brother’s wedding and road up canyons with my dad. This was getting serious, I was even cycling on my vacations.
I made a last minute shift in my new bike plans from an aero speed machine to a gravel bike with an extra set of wheels for road tires. The practicality of the all-rounder won out fairly quickly and I ordered a Canyon Grail, with its funny handle bars and excellent components. The upgrade was immense, and I’ve been super pleased with it.
Throughout the process I’ve purchased a lot of cycling clothing, tweaked things regularly on my bike, and done a lot of riding. I even started commuting to the office on my bike a couple days a week. I’m about to go out of town and am taking my bike in for a couple upgrades so that it can be ready for me as soon as I get back.
This new cycling effort has been one of the most significant changes for the better in my adult life. Regular exercise has made me feel better and pay more attention to what I eat and how I sleep. I’m able to let my mind wander or go blank for hours every week as I pedal over the chip sealed roads in Texas. In 2018 I road 3228 miles and this year I want to hit 4000. I haven’t ridden for two days now and I’m getting antsy. It’s time to get out again.