Back in the late eighties, when our youngest two were still very small, I decided to buy my wife a bike so she could take the kids out on a ride once in a while. Little did I know that it would turn into one of the biggest joys of my life. I realized at that time that I hadn’t been on a bike for about twenty years, since I myself was a kid. I LOVED the rediscovered feeling of freedom and speed while riding the bike! I rode that first bike way more than anyone else. I loved taking the kids for rides, and I loved riding it all by myself! Here are pictures of my son, Kevin, and me from around 1988:
Well, Kevin is now 25 years old and looks more like this:
That was us right after finishing a 300 mile benefit ride for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Michigan a couple of years ago. Together we raised about $2,000 that year.
It must have been around 1989 that I was able to buy my first really good road bike, a Trek 1400. The cool new features back then included index shifting and having an aluminum frame, which was every bit as stiff as steel, but way lighter. It had Shimano 105 components which proved to be not only very smooth but durable. I have ridden that bike for thousands of miles in sun and rain. It has seen me through dozens of triathlons and many charity events. I have used it until these past two years when we moved down to Winston-Salem. The hills down here make it difficult to use an “old-fashioned” bike that has shifters on the down tube. For several years now, the shifting mechanism on bikes is integrated with the brake mechanism on the same levers. That way you don’t have to take your hands off the handle bar and reach down to shift. In these hills, you have to shift continuously. You can’t be reaching down all the time and hope to keep up with the youngsters. Net result, I hadn’t ridden a lot these past two years. Until now! 😀
I’m a little sad to say goodbye to my 22 year old bike, but ecstatic to have a brand new one! Actually, it was an early “birthday present” from Princess Gail.
Here is my old bike. I look at it and can physically feel the joy (and sometimes pain) of the countless rides I’ve had on it.
And here is the new one. A Trek Madone 4.5. OMG, you should feel the ride! What a huge difference 22 years has made in bike technology!
The frame and fork are made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is also just about as stiff as steel, but light as a feather. If you took all the parts off and just held the frame in your hand, it weighs about as much as a paperback novel! The bike has the integrated brake/shifter mechanism which was my main requirement from a new bike.
I have been more than pleased with Shimano 105’s for the past 20+ years, so I kept the same Shimano 105 component group (integrated shifters, dual front chain ring derailleur, and rear cassette/derailleur.) At my level of riding, there was no reason to pay the extra hundreds and thousands of dollars for the higher level Ultegra or Dura Ace components.
This bike, though, is still cutting edge is some ways. On the other side of the bottom bracket you will see this:
Just to the right of the bottom bracket, you see a small window that is cut out of the chain stay arm of the frame. It is for optional electronics, which you see installed. This gizmo measures every pedal revolution so I can have cadence information while I’m riding (how fast I’m spinning the pedals.) In the past, a sensor had to be wired from this area all the way to your computer on the handle bar. It looked ugly. But now not only is it wireless, it is actually integrated right into the frame of the bike! That is pretty, and really way cool!
Speaking of the computer, things have also improved in this area.
The computer goes well beyond simple time/speed/distance information. Now I can have the cadence information I just mentioned, as well as heart rate information (if I am wearing the chest sensor strap that came with it,) and altitude information. All sorts of electronic fun!
So I’ve been riding a lot again. I am somewhat out of shape, but picking up speed and distance with every ride. I am “that close” to keeping up with riders/racers that are 20 and 30 years younger than I am. I still get that wonderful feeling of freedom and thrill of riding fast.
As a last picture, I’ll confess that I’m a grateful recovering bike addict. LOL. You can’t take your good road bike on a trail, so we have mountain bikes, too. You can’t ride either of these to work, so I have a commuter bike, too. See what I mean? Our garage:
There are addictions far worse than this, don’t you think so? 😀