Thursday, April 23, 2009

First Timer - Version 2

I seem to like stories in two parts. Not sure why. When they do that with sit-com episodes it drives me crazy, but maybe that's because I have to wait a whole week to find out how the zany adventure will end. In this case, I suggest just checking this blog every other day just in case I am rambling on in a somewhat related two part way. Actually, I would not suggest checking in on this blog at all unless you share the sickness that I have, which is regularly thinking about cycling, looking out the window and contemplating the weather - for riding purposes only, or as a substitute for buying something bike related on a daily basis. I've tried it, and I can tell you it is not a good way to improve one's marriage. True story: my wife once forbade me from going into Two Wheel Transit with any credit cards or a checkbook. Any cash I had in my pocket was fair game, but it did limit my buying for a while.

Yesterday, putting aside the problem with getting most of the facts wrong, I told the story of a young man doing his first road race and coming through with strength and glory.

Today's tale is a about a rider who is less young and is seeking less glory (at least today), but is new to the sport. For the last number of years, a guy who I will call Steev (but keep in mind that this is not his real name), would intermittently tell me that he was interested in taking up cycling. We would see each other a few times a year and at most of these times he would say something like "I really want to get a bike. Will you help me?" I would answer, "Sure Steev (but keep in mind this is not his real name). Just give me a call and will hit the bike shop." Even though Steev (keep in mind that this is not his real name) was ernest in his comments, another year would drag on and Steev (keep in mind that is not his real name) would still be bikeless but interested.

So, last April I was at social gathering and Steev (keep in mind that is not his real name) told me, again, that he wanted to get a bike. Since I love going to bike shops and I like Steev (keep in mind that is not his real name), I told him, again, to just let me know when we wanted to go and I would be glad to tag along and give him some advice. This time, however, to my great surprise I actually got a follow up call and Steev (keep in mind that his not his real name) wanted to go bike shopping the following weekend.

Now, if you knew Steev (which is hard to know if you do or not, since I am not using his real name), one of the things you would know about him is that he doesn't do things by halves. He is a definite in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound kind of guy. So when we went to the shop, he didn't just look at the bikes, he came prepared to jump in and buy a bike. And not just a bike, but also everything he needed to go riding. In fact, his leap was so effective, that we literally drove about three miles from the shop and took our first ride that day and Steev (keep in mind that is not his real name) looked like a page out of Colorado Cyclist. Which is reasonable to say since just like a model on the pages of a catalog, every single item on his body and his equipment was all exactly the same age - brand new.

One side note, and the reason it is nice to have a good and twenty-four year long relationship with your LBS (local bike shop). When it didn't work out to get together on Saturday to buy a bike and Steev's gear (keep in mind that is not really his name), the owner of Two Wheel Transit, Stephen (that is his real name), agreed to meet us on Sunday afternoon when his shop was closed and IN THE TWO HOURS BEFORE HIS DAUGHTER'S FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY. Now that, my friends, is customer service (and evidence of a very understanding wife).

From that first ride last April, Steev (keep in mind that is not his real name) and I started riding together at least 3-4 times a month, sometimes more. We started out with an easy 15 mile ride and keep increasing time and intensity over the next few months. As the summer wore down, Steev (keep in mind I have cleverly disguised his identity by not using his real name) decided that he wanted to ride a century to celebrate his initiation into cycling. We took a serious look at where we were with mileage and a serious look at the calendar and amount of nice weather left, and put together a plan to ramp up the mileage and be ready to "comfortably" ride a century. Sure, your first century should be hard and an accomplishment, but I also didn't want Steev (whose real name is not used in this story) to hate his bike at the end of 100 miles.

Steev (which is not really his name) jumped on the plan like the in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound guy that he is, and we were soon on the way to being ready. We invited along Rider 1 and on the appointed weekend we had perfect fall weather for a 100-mile cruise on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes (a trail that should be known throughout this country for it's near perfection - nice trail, amenities, incredible lakes, rivers and wildlife and for being 74 continuous miles in each direction).

This year, while die hard cyclists were starting to ride in bad weather, Steev (a cleverly used name to disguise his real identity) was caught up with his professional life as a captain of industry (or is he a titan of commerce?, not sure). Nonetheless, his biking enthusiasm was reignited and we went out for our first ride together last weekend. It has now been followed up by two early and cold Morning Rides, one of which included Steev's first ride up Hatch (did I mention that is not his real name?).

So now, I have established a rather lengthy introduction to my main point, which is this. If you could write up a text book on how to be an introductory cyclist, Steev (no, I'm not giving away his identity this late) would be the guy pictured on the front cover of said text book (now THAT would give away his identity). He managed to not geek out reading every word of advice on the internet and in BikeSnob's beloved Bicycling Magazine and he managed to not believe he was the second coming of Lance Armstrong on his first ride. He was interested in learning about cycling and interested in testing himself to see what he could do on the bike, but in a way that was both enthusiastic and reasonable. He wanted to fit in with the experienced guys, but not pretend to be one. He truly wanted to earn his spot in a group ride and understand what that meant.

At this point, I am ready to dispatch my pupil to cold cruel and wonderful world of cycling. He has learned all that I have to offer and in about three weeks he will be kicking my ass up every hill. Good luck as you continue your cycling journey, my friend (who's name is not Steev), you have officially graduated from the Rider 3 School of Cycling.

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