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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 06-08-09, 06:07 AM   #1
Neil_B
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"...ride bikes."

I was overwhelmed with seriousness. Planning a two week tour meant there was a lot to do, and a lot of details to be finalized. I was so stressed about planning to ride that I couldn't ride. Even rides I'd normally undertaken for the heck of it became "training", as if a bike tour were the Tour de France. And so, I didn't go cycling.

And then I remembered. A friend, a fellow much younger than me, often uses the phrase "ride bikes" when more serious folks would use the word "cycling" or an equivalent. "Hey, wanna go ride bikes?" he'd say. Now "cycling" is a noble, sophisticated word, and a good one. But it's possible, just as I was, to get wheel-sucked into the serious of cycling and forget that it's just riding bikes.

My plans on Sunday had been to ride the Thun Trail from Pottstown to Reading and back, a 40 some mile stretch that mimics much of the trail conditions I'm facing in a few days. But I didn't want to. Riding the whole trail was an obligation. It's a job for a cyclist. I was just going to ride bikes. So instead of driving to the trailhead in Pottstown, I headed for Angstadt Road, a few miles from Reading. The trail becomes very interesting from here as it heads into the city.

The fun was back. I rode the Thun into town, past the downtown to the end of Baer Park, and back again. I'd never been up that far before, and the park was lovely:



I ventured off-trail to the edge of the downtown, and photographed my favorite building, a little fire hall with a large tower.





On the way back, I spotted a mural on the side of a trail bridge:



Mount Neversink, Reading's 'other' mountain. Mount Penn is the bigger rockpile, and has the best-known feature of the city, the Pagoda.



Back at the car, I felt so good I wanted to ride some more. I judged I had enough daylight, and so I rode the trail back to Gibraltar, another 2 or so miles towards Pottstown. Once there, I decided I wanted to see the town. While this meant riding Rt 724, I had noted the wide shoulders on my drive up. So I pedaled off the trail and headed towards my car.

Although I felt like a kid, gathering dusk forced me to skip this ice cream parlor in Gibraltar. Again, I'd have missed it buzzing by at 50 MPH:



And while traffic was passing me at 50 MPH, I stumbled across the Allegheny Aqueduct, a bridge for boats on the old Schuylkill Canal. Again my bike let me see something I'd miss otherwise:



I reached the car at 8:30, 18 miles later, still raring to go, but realizing I needed to leave. So after a few more photos in the fading light I packed up, secure in the knowledge that I needed to spend less time thinking about "cycling" and more about riding bikes.

Hey, wanna go ride bikes?

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Old 06-08-09, 06:28 AM   #2
Mazama
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Good advice. When 'cycling' becomes a chore, it's time to stop.

BTW, I zip-tied my camera bag to the handlebar stem, it works great and gets it off you neck.
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Old 06-08-09, 07:23 AM   #3
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You hit it on the head, Neil. Ever since I stopped tracking mileage earlier this year, and started just going wherever the road took me - I've been infinitely happier. Some days I ride with a purpose, but most it's just to ride. Glad you find the sheer joy in doing that.
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Old 06-08-09, 08:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
Hey, wanna go ride bikes?
This is exactly how I phrase the question when I ask people if they'd like to join me for a ride. Doesn't matter if I'm talking about an easy 20mi with my cruiser on the MUP, or a 250km hilly 1-day.
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Old 06-08-09, 08:50 AM   #5
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That's it: I'm planning a trip to Neil's neck o' the woods!
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Old 06-08-09, 09:12 AM   #6
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That's it: I'm planning a trip to Neil's neck o' the woods!
So you want to see the Pagoda?
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Old 06-08-09, 09:22 AM   #7
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I'm afraid that I am guilty of taking the cycling to seriously lately also. With my first full century attempt less then a week away, I have been training and not "riding". While I do find pushing myself to my physical limit rewarding, I find that just plain riding is a lot more fun. Some of my most memorable rides started out not even knowing where I was going. I picked out a general area that I had never been before and headed that way. Of course, some of those rides turn into feats on my physical limits because I was out farther then I thought, but that is besides the point.
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Old 06-08-09, 10:26 AM   #8
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I'm afraid that I am guilty of taking the cycling to seriously lately also. With my first full century attempt less then a week away, I have been training and not "riding". While I do find pushing myself to my physical limit rewarding, I find that just plain riding is a lot more fun. Some of my most memorable rides started out not even knowing where I was going. I picked out a general area that I had never been before and headed that way. Of course, some of those rides turn into feats on my physical limits because I was out farther then I thought, but that is besides the point.
I'm one of those people who always likes to know where he's going, so I always plan a route (or at least have a general idea of the route.) I think that my recent adventures in randonneuring really play to the "let's ride bikes" attitude, even more than the organized/charity rides I've done.
The official minimum randonneuring pace is 8.33mph average. Of course, that's if you simply never stopped for any reason, since the clock is constantly running even if you're not moving. Even so, my meager 13 - 14mph pace gets me to the finish line with time to spare. And the randonneurs (at least the Seattle crew) are really encouraging; it's about having fun and finishing. They're serious about their riding, but they don't let that get in the way of enjoying themselves.
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