A little background first.
I've been riding bikes since age four or five.
In the early 1990s, I got a 21-speed MTB and it brought me a lot of fun over a few years, but in my mid teens, I, for some reason, lost interest and just left it standing in the garage.
Then, in 1998, I gave it to a relative in exchange for two RAM modules...
I hadn't used it for a couple of years before that.
At the same time, in 1998, I finished school and got a job at a local photo lab. Being only a 10-minute walk away, I never felt the need for a bike then.
I quit in early 2001 and moved to Cork, Ireland, where I then lived for over two years.
The streets and the traffic in Cork City were horrible, so cycling there was definitely out of the question. Instead, I walked to and from work. Took me around 40 minutes each way.
Almost a year and a half ago, I moved back home to Sweden, resumed my studies, and kept walking as much as I could.
Having no driver's licence, and no motorised vehicle of any kind, I never got very far...
Recently, I've felt more and more isolated in my little home town.
Sure, there are buses, but I don't just get on a bus for the fun of it...
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I spent some time in one of our largest cities (small by international standards, but still...) and saw all kinds of people effortlessly riding bikes all across the city.
I realised that, in spite of my brisk 7-km/h walking speed, on a bike, I could be going twice as fast for half the effort, and keep going for hours.
I had to get a bike!
And today, I bought a bike.
I knew what I wanted, and made sure I got it. Or at least as close to that as my budget would allow.
A 24-speed MTB with 26-in wheels. Since I intend to ride longish distances (commuting, in a way), I went with tyres with very little in way of tread in the middle. The sides do have knobs, but I decided to stick with that for the moment. They shouldn't slow me down going straight. New tyres are fairly cheap anyway, at roughly US$20, so I could easily get new ones if the current ones aren't satisfactory.
My local area is fairly rural. There are several small towns separated by a few kilometres, all along the coast and inland from it. The connecting roads are somewhat narrow but generally of good quality. Almost all are paved.
There's plenty of forested area to ride in, with tracks, dirt roads and such to explore.
In fact, exploring is another reason for getting the bike.
You see, even though I've lived here my entire life, there are still many places I've never been to, simply because I had no reason to go there, and when your only option is to walk there, it tends not to happen... On a bike, though, going there is easy and takes little time.
That's what I'll focus on to begin with. Shorter trips without time constraints, to rebuild skill and confidence, build strength and stamina and have fun at the same time.
When I feel comfortable riding longer distances, I'll shift to commuting.
Not that it's far, just 13 km each way, but it's still more than I'm used to. Really, I'm not used to anything, given that it's been almost a decade since I last rode a bike regularly.
Eventually, my goal is to feel confident and comfortable enough to embark on long trips, spending the night somewhere on the way.
That's probably a year or two in the future, but I'll get there.
For the past week, I've scoured the web for cycling resources, and read as much as possible.
In particular, two sites were hugely inspirational, that of the late Ken Kifer (I found the site a year on the day after his death), and also Sheldon Brown's.
I also enjoy the technical aspects of cycling.
Not only the bike tech but also the physics of cycling itself.
The "green" aspect is of particular interest to me.
Well, that's enough for now, I think...
If you've read all the way down here, pat yourself on the back!
I hope I'll enjoy myself here!