Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Tampa, FLA, USA
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Another New Guy from Florida (long, but I tend to get wordy at times)
I picked "BackInTheFold" as a username since after reading the various posts here that I've come back to a happy place. To some a 'religion', to some a hobby, and to others a route to a healthier & happier lifestyle.
Like many I used to ride my bike everywhere as a kid. It was how I got across town, to a friend's house, or just how I got away from everyone for a few hours. The early years of high school my afternoons were spent riding over to the local park and riding laps on the 0.75 mile/ 1.2 km multipurpose path. I was racking up about 20 miles / 32 km a day five or six days a week. Add a trampoline in the backyard and I was a fit teenager. I still remember my grandfather remarking "look at his legs." one day. Then I turned 16 (insert ominous music) and got my driver's license. Driving my dad's MGB around town. Too "cool" to ride the bike anymore. Sadly the bike was left behind. Then I bought my own car, got a 9-to-5 job, and sat behind a desk for most of the day.
In my family there's a history of bad circulation. My grandmother has it, my dad has it (amputated right leg below the knee) and I figure I'm gonna have it. My biggest fear about growing older is being one of those folks lined up in their wheelchairs in the hall of some nursing home waiting to die. Alzheimer’s is a close second. So after 20+ years I decided to start riding again. It's only three miles / five km from home to work so I figured the 30 minutes or so a day of exercise would be a good start. Yeah, I've had a gym membership for a decade or more, but it's too easy to say "I've been working all day, I'm too tired. I'll go tomorrow". With the bike if I'm "too tired" I'll be spending the night at work. So somehow I've always found the energy to make it home.
So I bought a new bike. My trusty Puegot MTB served me well during my teenage years. If some lowlife hadn't stolen it I would have put it to use today. So I headed down to my LBS, the owner of which is a longtime friend of my dad's. All of my childhood bike came from his shop. I told him I wanted a replacement for my old Puegot. The road bikes didn't interest me too much as I want to be able to jump the curbs and hit the occasional quasi-trail. I ended up with a Mongoose MTB that was the choice of the local bicycle cops. Not that I've ever seen a local bicycle cop, but it seemed to have everything I needed. Then I needed some up to date info. A Google search for "Bike Forum" brought me here.
I read about taillights and picked up a Catseye TL-LD600 five LED taillight. A bit of searching on headlights (more to be seen than see) got me a Catseye EL400 LED headlight. A post about Xenon strobes and I wound up with two Lightman strobes, amber for the rear & white for the front. A post about 'camouflaging' your bike for theft prevention coupled with a post about 3M reflective tape had me covering the decals on my black bike with black reflective tape. Add in a set of Master Lock Street Cuffs for security (along with a coiled cable lock for where the cuffs wouldn't work) and my bike was secure outside the grocery store. Where I used my Nashbar Townie Baskets to literally bring home the bacon. Add in a 'Air Zounds" 115 db horn (120+ db as measured by my home theater sound meter) and I was set.
So now at 38 I bike to work. To the grocery store. And just for the pure enjoyment. My energy level is up, my weight is slowing going down, and my legs are slowing getting to the point that my grandfather, if he were still alive, could comment on them. While I'm anxiously waiting for the summer months when it's daylight until almost 9:00 pm I'm still heading out with all of my lights blazing in the night. Sunday mornings are spent riding along Bayshore Blvd, supposedly the longest stretch of continuous sidewalk in the world (from 5 to 7 miles, depending on who you quote) before the crowds arrive.
I've no real reason not to ride into work each day. Sure, it rains most days in the summer, but I'm usually home before the late afternoon storms hit, and it hardly ever rains at 6:30 a.m. in the morning. Even if it does I'm up at 5:00 a.m. and can check the radar online and leave a bit early. The (relative) cold really doesn't matter once I get moving. And I can bike to and from work faster than I can walk to the parking lot, fight the traffic, and arrive home. All while unwinding along the way, clearing my head, and destressing from the day.
Although I'm not as hardcore as some of you here I'm working on it. Right now I'm just happy to be able to be out in the sunshine and enjoying the commute. To see the ducks along the river. To wave "Good Morning" to the guy at the sod company I pass each day. Instead of being sealed up in my truck cursing at the traffic and the jerk that just cut me off. Although the jerks are still there.
(and I'll try to keep the posts a bit shorter in the future)