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Road cycling, how did you start? Post your stories,

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Road cycling, how did you start? Post your stories,


Old 06-04-14, 01:30 AM
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Road cycling, how did you start? Post your stories,

Looking at the growth of the Road Cycling in Bike Forums in recent years, it seems that road cycling is becoming more and more popular. As a long-time road cyclist, I am happy to see more and more people getting taking and interest and getting into the sport. It takes willpower to get out and ride, and more than a little nerve to get into a pair of lycra shorts, and actually go out in public while wearing them.

I have now been riding for several years, and enjoy it now as much as I did when I first started. I have thought that other people who might be interested into getting into road cycling might want to hear about how others got started, and maybe learn a little bit about the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all.

Turning back the clock several years, I was living a busy life, working hard, and trying to make money. I usually worked from 9 in the morning until midnight or so. I was paid on a commission basis, and though money was not hard to make, the more I worked, the more I could earn. I worked 6 days a week, and on my day off, I usually stayed at home and played games, watched television, or read books. It was not an uncomfortable life, but it was an unhealthy one.

After a couple of years at this routine, my body began to show the effects. My clothes began to get more tight, and many would no longer fit. I found climbing stairs difficult, and the summer heat was unbearable. But my body was not the only thing which was affected, my mind suffered a little as well. At night I had trouble getting to sleep, and would lay awake for a couple hours thinking about work, money, and the lack of romance in my life. In the mornings I had trouble getting out of bed, and would hit the snooze button until getting out of bed was unavoidable. It was a bad situation.

One day I went to visit a friend at a shop he had just bought. He happened to buy a pawn shop, and he wanted me to come and take a look at all the crazy things the previous owner had accumulated over the years. Amongst the thousands of tools, musical instruments, televisions, radios, and other assorted junk was an old 10 speed bicycle. It was carelessly spray painted, had two flat tires, but was otherwise complete. For some reason I felt an attraction to this old bike, and asked him how much he wanted for it. He said the price was $200. I offered him $50 for it, and to my surprise, he accepted my offer.

I took the bike to a local bike shop, and asked them if they could get it cleaned up and rideable. The mechanic was impressed by the bike, he told me it was a Pinarello Record, made in 1984, and was still fully equipped with Super Record parts from that year. He cleaned up the bike, replaced the chain and pedals, and put on a pair of new tubular tires. He helped me set up the seat height, stem, etc. and I took the bike for a ride around the parking lot. I liked it very much.

While I was at the shop, I bought an issue of Bicycling Magazine, which was a much different magazine than it is today. Back in those days cycling was not a fashionable pastime, and there were no models to be seen wearing lycra or posing next to bikes. The articles were mainly about racing, equipment, and stories of adventure-on-a-bike from around the world. Mountain biking was just beginning to rear it's ugly head, but hadn't yet made a splash. After reading the magazine, I decided I needed to get some clothes to wear while riding.

I ended up buying a couple of jerseys, a pair of cheap lycra shorts, gloves, a hat (which said "Campagnolo" on it, of course), and a pair of leather cycling shoes. After getting home, I suited up, and went out on my first ride.

Nothing can describe the feeling of going out the door and down the street while wearing bicycle shorts for the first time. Walking naked would have made me only slightly less self-conscious. I got onto the bike, and did a 10 mile ride. To my surprise, no one laughed or honked their horns at me. I survived my first ride intact, other than some saddle pain. The pain was a little surprising to me, but the salesperson at the bike shop said the pain would go away after a few rides, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. The ride left me physically tired, but this was not an unpleasant feeling, and I fell asleep more quickly that night.

My work schedule was still busy, but I committed myself to waking up at 6 am, three days a week so I could ride before work. This I did, and, as the shop clerk had said, the pain went away. I enjoyed the early morning rides, and being out on the each morning as the sun rose, and after a short time, I began to increase my distance, eventually riding 20 miles each morning. My Sunday rides were gradually increased as well, and within a couple of months, I began to ride 50 miles every Sunday.

As time went by, I bought more things from the local bike shop. The shop owner told me about a large group ride that took place on Sunday mornings, and invited me to join in. I was quite nervous about riding with others, but I accepted his invitation, and arrived at the appointed place for the ride. This was to be a turning experience in my cycling life.

The group of riders was of all ages and types. There were kids in their early teens, and older riders in their 60's. Quite a few riders were very serious, and competed in races. Strange as it was to me, I found everyone friendly, and as the ride began, more than a few people took turns riding next to me, offering encouragement and advice. The Sunday ride became a regular routine for me, and I never missed it if I could help it.

Like most group rides, the people in the group are of all different abilities, and after a short time, the group separates into two groups, a fast group which breaks away and rushes off into the distance, and a slower group which rides hard, but not so fast. For the first few months, I rode in this slower second group. I made some friends, and learned a lot about people in general. Some were working class people, others were professionals, a few were quite wealthy, more than one was unemployed, but all were easy to get along with. I learned about drafting, basic strategy, and that I could push my body much harder than I had previously thought.

In time, the guys I usually rode with asked why I wasn't riding with "the A team" (fast group). I told them I wasn't that fast, but they disagreed, and said they were sure I could keep up if I tried. The next weekend, I followed their advice, and stayed in the front half of the group, and when the group broke up, I stayed up with the faster riders. This was another big experience for me. The faster riders were very competitive, and very savvy. My first ride with them was challenging, but I kept up without being spit out. I was quite proud of myself. From them on, I rode as much as possible with the faster riders.

Riding had become an addiction to me. I changed my schedule so I could take the full weekend off, and I joined a Saturday group ride in addition to the Sunday ride. My fitness level increased greatly. My belly became flat, my resting pulse fell to 48 bpm. My legs would no longer fit into my jeans. I mixed it up with the fastest riders, and challenged myself by taking long pulls at the front of the group. I moved up in the group hierarchy, and became a member of a small group of very serious riders. We were very competitive, and always strived to be the first finishers. I learned the finer points of strategy from these riders, and we could communicate with gestures and looks, and we could size up another rider's ability with just a look.

A few of these riders were amateur racers, and they recommended that I join them in some of the local races. Competing in real races required that I change my life significantly, especially my work schedule. But I found that I could cut back on my work schedule and still make money, so I started racing.

My first race was quite an experience. I arrived too early, and found myself to be the first person there. The staff were setting things up, they found my name on the list, and gave me my numbers. I sat around and waited. The weather was bad, and it started to rain. Other riders began showing up, most in cars and vans, some riding in on their bikes, and before long the starting area was quite crowded. Eventually I found my friends, and we began ribbing each other about each other's bikes, riding ability, and girlfriends (or lack thereof). Eventually, the race started, and we were off. In the beginning everyone rode very slowly, warming up muscles, and getting a feel for the weather, course, and other riders. The pace picked up gradually over time, and became quite fast.

The race was a blast. The rain varied between light and pouring, but it kept my body cool. I was soaked by the water being thrown up by my tires, and those of the riders in front of me. I ended up taking off my glasses, because cleaning the mud and water off them took more time than simply wiping my eyes with my arm. My friends came up alongside me, one of them gave me a knowing look, and then he rode up ahead, I followed. We moved up just as an attack occurred, and we were able to join in on it. The second half of the peloton fell off the back, and was not seen again. At the large curve at the halfway point, I was pulling in front, it was a memorable experience. After completing the curve, a group of 5 riders took off. One of my friends joined them. After my pull, I didn't have the strength to follow, but those of use in the chasing group kept up a strong pace.

Our chase group thinned out as rider after rider dropped off. I was surprised to find myself feeling good. As we reached the two-thirds distance, I could see the breakaway riders in the distance, we were reeling them in. By now there were only three riders left in our chasing group. We caught up with the breakaway group, and they fell in with us. By now, only one of my friends was left, the rest had fallen off and disappeared.

At about two miles from the finish, the pace picked up slightly, this was too much for a couple of the riders, they fell off as well. With the finish in sight, there was an all-out sprint. My friend led me out (as I was the better sprinter), and pulled me as far as he could, I jumped on the pedals, and used every muscle in my body to move my bike, and just as I was about to cross the line, another rider passed me on my left, and crossed just ahead of me. I was pissed to no end. But then I realized that second place in one's first race was not a bad result, and felt a little better.

The next morning, I got out of bed early. My legs were so sore that I could barely walk. Everything hurt. But I pulled on my shorts, jersey, and shoes, hobbled out the door with my bike, and rode out to join the Sunday morning group ride. An hour later, the pain was gone, and I was taking a pull at the front of the A team, and enjoying every moment.
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Old 06-04-14, 01:45 AM
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Road cycling, how did I start ...

40-something-odd years ago ... I was 6. My father brought home a little gold convertible road bicycle, removed the top tube to turn it into a "girl's bike", and set me off.

I grew up in a cycling family ... surrounded by bicycles, Bicycling Magazine, etc.

My story, in brief ...

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Old 06-04-14, 02:54 AM
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I grew up in IN where basketball was king. Unfortunately, I'm 5'7" and have short arms. (Looking back, I wish I had tried cross-country running.) I started lifting weights in high school and that eventually replaced basketball as my favorite sport.

There's a cross-state ride in Indiana called RAIN and that's what got me into cycling. I thought I'd just do it once and ride a few times a week for cardio after that. Instead, I fell in love with cycling and it replaced lifting as my favorite sport. I lost 10 pounds of muscle since then.

Nothing compares to the cycling high. I do think lifting is better for building self-confidence, though.
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Old 06-04-14, 03:12 AM
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hm. well, i developed Edema in 2004, so my doctor told me i had to go on a low sodium, low fat, low sugar, no caffeine diet. so between eating better and exercising daily, i went from 235 to 181 in about five months. a few months later, my best friend at the time received an email from a fitness studio that was had a promotion on spin classes, so we both went and i liked it so much that i signed up. that same friend was a triathlete and there were a few local races that summer that needed volunteers, so i volunteered. after i started seeing the same people over and over at different races, i just started talking to them and soon after became friends with them. and they all rode, so basically 8 months after first getting a spin bike i decided to get a road bike, because i LOVED the feeling of getting my ass kicked on a spin bike and wanted to take it one step further. so i've been riding ever since 2005, on that same bike...
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Old 06-04-14, 03:28 AM
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Mountain biked as a kid.
Got a Road bike in my early 20s.
Liked the competitive nature.
~ The End ~
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Old 06-04-14, 03:32 AM
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grew up in a semi-rural area where closest friends were about 3 miles away. got a sears "free sprit" 10-speed
at the age of 10 or so and rode that to their houses and everywhere else. the area was either up or down but it didn't seem to diminish the fun. did that for about 2 years until the bmx craze hit hard and ditched the 10-speed but still rode the bmx bike everywhere. went about as fast uphill and down as i had before with that limitless energy of youth. then it wasn't cool to ride anymore and it was either the bus or walking for those few years before the driving license.

got to be in my early 30's living in chula vista, ca near the olympic training center and i would occasionally
see either the men's or women's team out, just zipping past. looked like fun and i needed a regular form of fitness. i remembered enjoying riding as a kid. didn't really like running much anymore and my schedule was too difficult for a consistent soccer league or pickup game. was in the local second-hand sports store one day looking for something and came across a 1988 bianchi strada road bike. took it for a little test ride and was hooked. paid $150 and spent another $75 on new tires and a tune up. haven't regretted it since.

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Old 06-04-14, 03:35 AM
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After getting my first real bike (as a kid/young adult my dad would get us only the crappiest of bikes) I was firmly in the belief that I would always stick with the straight bar. My brother had a kona paddy wagon which i rode sometimes and it gave me a deep hatred towards road bars. Little did I know that it was not a hate for road bars but a hate for too long a cockpit.

But one beautiful summers day there was a bicycle expo in my city and as a kinda new cyclist I wanted to see what was what. They had a test ride area where you could ride any bike you wanted (assuming of course they had your size) I tried a few MTB's which were fun enough but then I tried a peugeot steel frame road bike. After that test ride my only thought was "@&/$&@#$!!! I'm gonna have to spend so much money on this crap!"

So I sold my trusty old dr. Dew and bought my crux comp. My only regret is that I didn't wait a year for the disc brake models. But then again now I know all my future bikes are going to be with discs. Having gotten a disced bike from the start might have peaked my curiosity towards rim brakes and we don't want that do we.
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Old 06-04-14, 04:03 AM
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It was a dark and stormy night, when out of the inky shadows .....
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Old 06-04-14, 04:41 AM
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As an adult, simply needed a way to get to job interviews while both my car and I were broke (was unemployed, long story). I was big into cars rather than bicycles before this low point in my life. A to B would take an hour and a half walking vs twenty or thirty min riding. Found someone on CL to trade my crappy, paid for with saved up neighborhood job money around age 13-14, bought brand new for $200 television for a real piece of crap big dept store (did I mention piece of CRAP) MTB. Upgrade after upgrade here I am with a semi-modern road bike. As a little kid, just like every other little kid around the world.

Great story OP, I really enjoyed reading that and hope to follow suit eventually with the second half of it.

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Old 06-04-14, 05:09 AM
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My uncle was into cycling and was vice president of El Chico's Corporation so he had the money for a nice collection of bikes. In 1987 I was home on leave from the military and we went on a ride around White Rock lake in Dallas. He let me ride his '86 Peugeot PG and I was hooked that day. He gave me that bike and I spent the first four years of my cycling life on Campy Super Record and tubulars.
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Old 06-04-14, 05:42 AM
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ankles destroyed in varsity soccer @ university, I was 21. got a bike to stay fit, joined a touring club, got some coaching. raced as a cat 1, provincial champion. at 47, I still am quick. If I could come up with 20hrs/wk to train, I could race with the 1,2s but I am choosing bike advocacy over racing. I chair my city's cycling advisory committee. Local media use me as a resource for advocacy and safety issues. I chat with various groups, commuting, advocacy, fitness, competitive in the bicycle realm. Bicycles and all things associated have formed the bonds of my deepest friendships, given me the greatest rewards, the greatest suffering and hardship and made me the boss of a man I am today.
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Old 06-04-14, 05:54 AM
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I started cycling a year ago. In January of 2013, my cousin's two year old son was hospitalized for what they eventually determined was type 1 diabetes. A couple of months later he started a team for the Tour de Cure. I had been a runner for several years, usually logging between 30-45 miles per week and figured I would borrow a bike and do the 100k to raise a little money. As it turned out, I got far more enjoyment out of cycling than I ever did from running. I'm on my second bike in as many years and only run two days a week now to cross train. This coming weekend we will be doing a century for TDC along the coast of Maine and I'm super excited about how beautiful of a ride it will be.
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Old 06-04-14, 06:12 AM
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got a "cool" mountian bike when i was a kid... when i started living on my own i decided i wanted to do loads of longboarding, biking etc... so i built a bike. I ended up building 2 other bikes and a longboard over the years... never looked back
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Old 06-04-14, 06:34 AM
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I rode a lot as a teen. We'd think nothing of doing 100 miles in day. Sometimes on overnight trips, other times just riding. Then I stopped riding for 30+ years. I happen to live in an area popular with riders, but although seeing all those riders brought back memories, I never thought to start riding again myself. Then someone gave my wife a bike and I bought one to ride around the neighborhood with her. Started with a CL hybrid that wasn't a good fit, but quickly moved to a road bike and I was hooked again. Three years or so later, I'm still loving it.
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Old 06-04-14, 07:00 AM
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I'm 56 and being in high school during the bike boom I bought a Motobecane Mirage with my busboy money the summer of '74. When school resumed in the fall of our junior year a group of us started racing to school, paceline style down the highway. Game on.

Through adult years, moves, children, and other things kept me from pursuing my love for the open road but was never far from my mind. Then 10yrs ago I found an '85 Trek 460 and the fire was restoked. It's hard to believe I am still getting faster and stronger every season though I know that time of performance decline is on the horizon. For now, I rock an '88 Cannondale Criterium with various important performance upgrades.
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Old 06-04-14, 07:10 AM
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Training for a triathlon. Discovered that of all three sports I really only like one of them. After the triathlon was over I decided cycling only for me.
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Old 06-04-14, 07:12 AM
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There once was a man from Nantucket...
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Old 06-04-14, 07:21 AM
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was getting old and needed to do a little peacocking for a lovely lady ... long story short, kept the bike, never got the lady ...
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Old 06-04-14, 07:23 AM
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Old 06-04-14, 07:35 AM
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I was aspiring to become a motorcycle racer in 2008. I did a lot of track days, earned my license, and then realized that my fitness needed to improve after a day at the track where fatigue started to set in and I almost made a costly mistake. I had friends that rode bicycles from the motorcycling scene and they recommended cycling since I hated going to the gym and my knees were in rough shape from prior injuries and a surgery in HS.

I bought my first bike used off CL; a trek 1000 with downtube shifters. I bought some basic gear and went for plenty of solo rides and group rides; I was hooked. I quickly realized I wanted something nicer and picked up a Specialized Tarmac on closeout about 5 years ago. Began bicycle racing and then dropped motorcycles entirely after my motorcycle was stolen (used part of the money from the claim for more bike-related items).
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Old 06-04-14, 07:48 AM
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I started with mountain biking and when I didn't feel like driving somewhere to ride, I swapped out to road tires. I soon got tired of doing that and I didn't really enjoy that ride very much with the front suspension. My cycling friend had just gotten a road bike and he started to use that a bit more. I also wanted something a bit less expensive to ride frequently, I was and still am a fat man that isn't very graceful and that is a bad combination for a rear wheel no matter the bike and I went through a few mountain bike wheels.

I still have my mountain bike, it is a Mongoose Newman(this was the last time Mongoose was in a independendt bike shop and had just been sold and put their bikes in retail stores) frame that I hung some nice stuff on, and I still have the last wheel that is still broken, the part of the rim that holds the tire bead is bent out, broken actually as you can see through the crack. I tacoed so many wheels mountain biking that it was really getting expensive. I went through a wheel about every other week, depending on how many times I went for a ride. I was loosing weight but I figured that I could get similar results road cycling at a much cheaper rate. I do go through rear road wheels but not as frequently as I did when mountain biking because I don't jump quite as much, just have to watch out for the pot holes.

Last edited by WrightVanCleve; 06-05-14 at 06:03 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention that the Mongoose frame was a good one and not from retail box store.
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Old 06-04-14, 07:59 AM
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I rode some back in high school, pretty much grew up riding bikes most of my life, then I started playing soccer, got good at that, played in college, rode motorcycles, cycling became an "i used to do that" kinda thing. flash forward into my 30's, kids come along, an office job with long hours and a wife that could REALLY friggin cook and I ended up WAY overweight, i started working out in the gym, cut my weight down, got injured (herniated discs in my back), did pain mitigation for several years, gained most of my weight back, started running again and by this time I'm now ~40yrs old and every run felt like a damn death march, tried elliptical and my back/knees hated it, started back riding an entry level trek mtb around the neighborhood, hmmm, not bad, I can do this, bought a cheap road bike (which I'm still riding) and love it, i don't feel like i've been in a fight when i get off the bike, i get hours of good cardio, but most importantly and I can't stress this enough, my body doesn't ache after I do it, even the first few rides while my sit bones were getting used to it didn't compare to the general body aches i got with running. at 45 now, cycling is my primary fitness activity and I couldn't be happier about that
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Old 06-04-14, 09:07 AM
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Awesome story OP.

I use to ride a lot as to the park and what not. My uncle gave me his old Schwinn road bike with stem shifters it was a blast to ride when I was 14. I stopped when I got my drivers license at 16.

17 years later started riding again last summer for fitness mainly bought a Marin road bike and its something about the early morning rides its a great feeling. Hope I can get the kids into it eventually (4 and 5 months old)
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Old 06-04-14, 09:25 AM
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Bought my first road bike second hand when I was about 10-11 with paper route money. I've never owned anything else but road bikes since. The 1st bike was stolen while I was in college and the replacement I still ride. I bought a modern bike last Oct. I've only owned those 3 road bikes in the last 45 years
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Old 06-04-14, 09:46 AM
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Grew up in the country, started riding on the road, before Mountain bikes existed.

My first real road bike, a ten speed with drop handlebars(Monshee Nomad) I bought at 15, with money I earned. Didn't drive road the 10 miles to school, to friends places, to conservation areas, to work, everywhere.

Was a cross country runner, and ran into my first years of university, but decided to switch to cycling to save my legs from shin splints.

Friend at my first job introduced me to touring and I was hooked.
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