A couple of weeks ago,I was going through some papers from my time in college and found the receipt for the first bicycle I ever bought.
I was 19 ,living in Atlanta and about to begin my first year of college. I lived in a cheap flat above a bike shop in Morningside. In the bike shop worked this gorgeous chick. Since I didn't ride a bicycle I quickly ran out of excuses to hang out in the bike shop and pester her.
I had $500 stashed away to buy a car. My lower brain reasoned that $500 would either buy a real sh!tty car or a really nice bike which would get me next to the girl in the bike shop. So on August 26, 1976, I went downstairs and paid $488.73 for a used Condor touring bike, wool shorts , a wool jersey, 2 spare tubes and a patch kit.
I started riding and was immediately in love with that bike. I have had some great bikes since but nothing has ever matched the first day I rode that bike on the roads through Piedmont Park! That first weekend and after classes the following week I was riding everyday!
In the meantime I had not forgotten about the girl in the bike shop, I was finding every excuse to visit the shop. Cheapest thing in the shop was toe straps and I was already up to about 10 of them Then a couple of weeks later as I walked in one afternoon for my 11th toe strap, she was talking to someone about a ride she was going on the following weekend. I got bold and asked if I could go along and she said sure, It was a club event with various distances and I just needed to get to the start in Clarkston on Saturday.
The day of the ride came and not having a car I rode the 12 miles to Clarkston to start the ride. I got there late. There was several signup sheets for the different ride distances, I looked through them until I found her name , I signed up and got my map. I was told her group had left a few minutes before. I took off and began the chase.
I caught up with her about 25 miles into the ride when her group had stopped for a break. She was surprised when I rode up!. She starts telling the others about how I had just started riding 3 weeks ago and was already riding my first Century!. That was when I asked " By the way, how long is a Century?" After everyone recovered from laughing. She says "Century? it is 100 miles!" Being 19 and trying to be cool I said "Ok, that is what I thought". Inside I was dying.
I hung on till about 50 miles when I fell behind. By 70 miles I was feeling sick and barely turning the cranks. I rested for over an hour at a country store where I drank water, ate fruit and crackers till I finally had regained enough energy to get back on the bike. The last 30 miles must have taken me nearly 4 hours. I got back and everyone was long gone. The ride had taken me nearly 11 hours and I still had to ride home. I got home about 10pm that night having rode a total of 125 miles that day. when I crawled in the bed that night I stayed there nearly 3 days.
I never got a date with the girl, I soon found out she already was in a serious relationship(my usual luck). We however became good friends for many years afterward.