Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One Year Ago... almost to the minute...

I was walking out of Wal-Mart in Olathe, KS with a bicycle in tow. Check this baby out! NEXT PowerX DS-26. 18 gears of pure... uhhh... What the heck was I thinking?!
With it, I had purchased a Schwinn seatpost-mounted rack, a Master Python cable lock, Bell Xenon/LED headlight and LED Tail light, some patches and a Blackburn air pump.

The whole rig set me back $126, all accessories and tax included. My goal was to spend about $100. I went a little over budget, but it was all good. The next morning, I rode to the bus instead of driving, and I was a huffing, puffing mess when I got there.

Weighing in at about 235 pounds, I was living a terribly sedentary lifestyle. If I wasn't sleeping, I was sitting at my computer desk, sitting on the sofa, sitting in my office, or sitting in my car. I remembered how fun it was to ride a bike as a kid, so I thought maybe the bicycle would get my butt back into gear.

A year of (r)evolution
That bike only lasted me about six weeks. When I got rid of it, the rear suspension pivot was squeaking, the bottom bracket was ticking, and the bearings in the freewheel rear hub had completely shelled. Little shavings of metal were appearing, and the wheel was so loose that it was rubbing the brakes and seat stays.

I was a few pounds lighter, and was having a blast riding my bike. With all the passion and nothing to ride, I had to get back into the game. Check out my first few posts on the Blog if you want to get caught up with my Sorrento and Outlook, pictured on the left respectively.

I had a pretty good run of things with the hybrid-ized Outlook and rugged Sorrento for foul weather commuting to the bus. I was riding 4 days a week and adding miles to my commute by getting dropped off at my wife's office and riding home from there. I was also making trips by bike for errands like groceries, going to the coffee shop, and things like that. In January, I started keeping track of my miles ridden.

In April, I decided to buy a road bike, but had to save up for it first. I rode more than 350 miles in April alone, and had almost 900 miles for the year under my belt. On May 1st, I bought my Road bike, a Trek 1200 (pictured left below) and thus far, I've put more than 2,000 miles on it alone, and more than 3,000 miles on all of my bikes combined for the year.

I've been on a slow weight loss kick, but I'm now more than 40 pounds lighter than I was a year ago. One year has taken 8 years off of how I feel from an energy and health standpoint. On top of that, I'm having a ton of fun on my bicycles and saving at least $200 per month on gas and parking costs, not to mention the cost of maintenance like tires, brakes, and oil changes. My commute also releases a lot of stress, but when I was driving, I'd often find myself pulling my hair out.

I've also taken a few spills, met some great people, confused the heck out of some cow-orkers, gone on some really brutal rides, and ridden in everything from foot-deep snow or 3-below-zero to 100 degrees in the shade with 110 heat indexes. Only 40 pounds of lost weight doesn't seem like a lot for a year's worth of exercise, but I've noticed a lot of lean mass gain in my lower body. I'm not paying much attention to my weight, and I don't think I need to. Every time I do bother to check it, I'm getting lighter. Even without checking it, I can tell week by week that I'm getting healthier.

Rightfully so, bicycles are wildly contagious. In June, my wife went out to look at bicycles. In the middle of July, she was dead-set on the Electra Townie. She took it for a spin and loved the wind in the hair and the freedom to roll. She bought the Townie 3S and has been riding with me when we have time together. I'm proud of her for getting out, buying the bike she wanted and actually riding it instead of just talking about "riding a bike or hitting the gym one of these days" like so many others do. She's the kind that loves nature and the outdoors and her Townie gives her a new and fun way to experience it. I don't know that she'll ever get into bicycle commuting. She has her own reasons for riding. Everyone has their own reasons for riding; that's one of the many awesome things about bicycles.

So, here's to my first year of using bicycles, buses and alternative transportation in the KC area. There'll be many more to come: this is just the beginning! Stay tuned.


Brendon said...

(found post via bikeforums.net)

Right on! Great post that's inspirational for me. I'm just getting rolling with the commute, and love reading stuff like this!

Ride on!

amidnightrider said...

Arrrrrh! Shiver me timbers, your a bike riding pirate. Arrrrh!!!

Andrew said...

Just wanted to say I enjoy your blog. It inspired me to start my own and begin getting in shape to attempt bicycle commuting.

I live in Prairie Village and work in Gladstone, so I've got my work cut out for me. My plan is to use the Max bus to get me up to the River Market and then ride the remaining 6.5 miles to my office.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Shiver me timbers! Good for you! Keep up the riding, matey!

Sasquatch said...

Great post! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...


Great blog - have featured it on British cycling site www.everydaycycling.com. An inspiration to us all.

Anonymous said...

I own a DS-24 in silver and blue like that one shown, though less problems besides the shifter cable for the rear going out. slowly I want to hot rod it with bold ons for appearance and maybe some decals. and it is contagious! iI love biking now that I can ride. great blog posts, keep it up (and eventually I'd like to get a road bike also and pass my current one to my son when he's old enough)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing! Today is my first day bike commuting to work (7 miles one way). I almost passed out a few times, but I made it and I love it!

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