Cycling Rites of Passage

Recently Bicycling Magazine ran a story featuring 108 of the greatest moments in the life of a cyclist. Being rather dedicated to the sport, I thought I’d chime in on these rights of passage.

108 moments and not a single mention of the WNBR

 

01. REALIZING THAT THE HILL ISN’T IN THE WAY; it is the way.

With only two “hills”, both being bridges, here in SW Florida, hills rarely get in the way. Sure they can be a pain to climb after a long ride, or if the weather isn’t cooperating, but they never intimidate.

02. You go from one pair of shorts to a dedicated drawerful.

It’s a never ending quest to find the perfect riding shorts, or in most cyclists case, bibs, as once you try bibs you’ll never go back to shorts. We all have our favorite brands, yet we are never afraid to test out a new one, as it may become our next favorite.

03. Being unable to sleep the night after you first shave your legs, because of the tingle of bedsheets against your skin.

It had to be one of the strangest sensations ever, and it lasted more than a night, but frankly I needed a good nights rest after wrestling with the clippers and razor the first time. The contortions alone can wear you out.

04. When “thanks for the ride” goes from something you overhear to part of your lexicon.

Riding with others is fun and competitive. You not only actively looks for group rides, but also join up with ones you see and/or ask others to join your ride.

05. You see someone at the beach tanned low on the quads and biceps, and give him a nod of recognition.

You can spot a cyclist from his or her legs easily. A good cyclist tan always deserves respect.

06. Bonking so bad you don’t think you’ll be able to make it home.

I’ve come close on a couple occasions, but I have yet to experience the dreaded bonk…hopefully I never will.

07. Discovering how a convenience-store Coke can resurrect the dead.

Coke can be magical. On a long ride I always hit the point where I am “gatorade-ed out” and actually long for an ice cold coke. It’s not me either as you see it in the professional ranks too. It’s amazing what a little caffein, sugar and fiz can do when you are tired.

08. Starting and finishing a ride—the same one—in pouring rain.

As I’ve stated before, I’m a fair weather cyclist, but riding in a group while raining is a very unique pleasure. It’s fun, challenging, dangerous, and extremely messy. If it wasn’t for that nasty road grit I really would not mind it, but when it does happen, the ride is extremely fulfilling…to bad the clean up afterwards isn’t.

09. When you hang out at the bike shop and no one expects you to buy anything.

It’s not a hang out per say, but the local Trek Store is certainly a great place to visit whether it is to purchase something, get service, or just to say hello. I’m sure other local stores are exceptional too, but the Trek Store has always been my go to shop.

10. When your bike computer registers triple digits for one ride.

Triple digit rides are always fun. Whether it’s a big event ride, or just a long tour with a bunch of friends, that century mark always leaves a big smile on your face.

11. Clearing a log on a the trail.

Trail? What’s a trail…..paved roads only please, I am a die hard roadie!

12. You embrocate.

This is Florida, land of heat, sunshine and humidity. No embrocation is needed. if the temp does dip down for a day or two just dust off those tights in the closet.

13. Staying with the paceline long enough to take a turn at the front.

Your first group ride/pace line is always exciting. Making your way to the front and taking a pull, no matter how long or short, is really not that hard. Getting back onto that fast moving train is another story.

14. You’re on the bike for the fifth straight day, and your butt doesn’t hurt.

Actually once you get used to the “ass hatchet” like saddles we have, long periods and extended days of riding are not difficult/uncomfortable at all, but breaking in that first saddle will definitely leave your bottom side very sore.

15. You try bibs and realize you can never go back to shorts.

Like I said in point number 2, once you try bibs, you will never go back to shorts again. I have three pairs of perfectly good shorts collecting dust in a drawer.

16. You stop riding beside and behind the pack and instead ride inside of it—with no claustrophobia.

Your first few group rides are always a little intimidating, but once you get used to them, as well as the riding styles of others, it becomes second nature.

17. You swing off the front of a paceline before you get tired.

Actually this one takes a while to master, because all too often you burn all your energy in the pull and don’t leave enough to hop back onto the fast moving pace line. I’ve been guilty of this way too many times, but with practice, you learn to take your pull and leave enough to get back on.

18. You blow a snot rocket without hitting your shoulder or leg—or the rider behind you.

Snot rocketry is an art which takes a while to master. Once mastered it can also become an offensive tool!

19. You notice that someone else has the chain grease on his right calf.

They say a chain ring tattoo on your calf is the sign of a bike noob, but the way I see it, it’s just someone out there enjoying the ride…wear it proudly!

20. You get stuck in your pedals and topple over at a stoplight.

That has never happened to me………actually we have all taken the flop of disgrace at some point. Hopefully there is no one around to witness it when it does happen.

21. Someone you introduced to the sport kicks your ass on a ride.

Hey it’s part of the cycling evolution. We all get stronger over time. But if and when it does occur, you can always just claim you were on a recovery ride!

22. Riding a bike through a big, congested city and feeling smarter than everyone else because you’re moving.

Although this is not a big city by any extent of the imagination, it always does feel much smarter when we are moving and cars are not. Even better yet is when you beat a car to a destination…it’s not as uncommon as you may think.

23. You wake up to find the sheets stuck to your road rash—and still feel excited about riding that day.

Luckily the road rashes I have had have been minor, yet I still woke up stuck to the sheets. It’s not fun to peel yourself off the sheets, but once back on the bike it’s all worth it.

24. Your boss stops by to ask you to explain what’s happening in the Tour de France.

You’d think this was the only bike race in the world. Anytime non-cycling friends of mine see a feed on TV with a peloton, they always ask who is winning the TdF…or worse, they ask if Armstrong is going to win it all this year.

25. You fix up your old bike to get someone into the sport.

NOT….you can never have enough bikes. Old ones become bad weather trainers, or touring bikes.

26. WEARING OUT YOUR FIRST SET OF TIRES.

Actually it happens all too quickly. Down here in SW Florida, anything over 2k miles on a tire is exceptionally good.

27. You ride through a pothole, and it’s no big deal.

The nether regions don’t appreciate it, but hey, rough spots on the road are part of the “charm”.

28. Getting hopelessly lost—deliberately.

Been there done that. How else do you expect to discover new routes. Luckily my trusty iPhone has always gotten me home.

29. You stop midride to give your only spare tube to a stranded cyclist.

It’s part of the charm of cycling. Riders always help other riders stopped on the road. This is why I always carry two tubes.

30. You realize you’re driving your car as if it’s a bike—drafting, looking for holes, getting away from the squirrelly guy.

I find myself doing this all too often. In fact my wife often has to say, “you’re in a car, not on a bike”. At least I haven’t tried to signal a turn by sticking my arm out.

31. Fixing a busted chain.

Knock on wood, still has not happened.

32. When you no longer have to stop to take off your jacket.

I prefer a good base layer to a jacket, so it is rare when I use one. The times I do, it’s too chilly to remove anyways. I doubt I have the mad skills to try it. If I did, I’g get the sleeve stuck in the rear wheel.

33. Feeling confident about taking off your jacket while riding—then catching the trailing sleeve in the rear wheel.

See number 32.

34. The first time you crumple your race number.

Being more a long distance/endurance type rider, I haven’t been bitten bitten by the race bug, but who knows, it may happen some day.

35. Planning a riding vacation.

Lots of plans, but none have come to fruition yet.

36. Seeing a sunrise from the saddle.

This happens almost every day I ride.

37. Wondering how the biggest local hill would rank on the Tour de France climb classification.

I jokingly call our bridges a Hors catégorie climb.

38. In your head, Phil Liggett narrates your ride.

Paul Sherwen and Bobke are there too!

39. You got dropped, you flatted, bonked, got turned around—and when you got home you said you had a great ride.

All rides are great rides!

40. You roll through a patch of gravel and, without thinking, reach back to brush the crud off your tire with your palm.

I’ve even brushed the crud off fellow cyclists tires.

41. A rider you respect says, “You were flying today.”

Perhaps not “flying”, but it’s always a great compliment when another rider says you were strong.

42. Rolling through a stop sign—and knowing it was the right thing to do.

Guilty! But then how many cars actually come to a “complete” stop if the intersection is empty.

43. Doored!

Hopefully never.

44. When you crest the summit of a climb, start down and realize you’ve gone the wrong way. But keep going anyway.

You’ll never get crossed up on our two climbs here in SW Florida. Either you are going onto the island or off it.

45. Rubbing wheels—and staying up.

It’s happened a couple times. Always scary, often preventable.

46. Letting go of your kid’s seat and not having to grab it again.

Still working with training wheels with my little one….perhaps this summer we take them off.

47. Getting a bike stolen and being surprised at how deeply it hits you.

Luckily I have never had one stolen, but I have had them destroyed by a car. That hurt physically too.

48. Cleaning the cassette with your old toothbrush.

All toothbrushes go to cassette heaven. Actually isn’t that what a toothbrush was invented for?

49. Sprinting the neighbor kids.

All the kids like to race the “old guy” on his bike…none has beat him yet!

50. Chasing a rabbit down singletrack.

I’ve chased some deer as well as some wild hogs, but no rabbit.

51. Falling asleep when you stop for a break on a mountain bike ride.

What’s a mountain?

52. Endo.

Never!

53. Telling someone which bike to buy.

Well, not telling per say, but I have suggested many bikes and components to friends.

54. Overcooking a turn.

Riding the ragged line is fun….NOT!

55. Breaking a collarbone.

Never!…knock on wood.

56. Figuring out how to layer without overdressing.

It’s an art I have yet to master, especially with the wild temperature extremes here in Florida. It’s not uncommon to start a ride in the 50’s and finish it in the 80’s.

57. Deciding which car to buy in part based on how it will carry your bikes.

In the middle of that right now.

58. Your first ride with a jersey instead of a T-shirt.

Clothing flapping in the wind is a cycling faux pas. Loud, tight lycra FTW!

59. Riding on a day so cold the water in your bottle freezes.

This is Florida. the only way a bottle will freeze is to stick it in your freezer.

60. Discovering that a shot of Jameson in each bottle keeps the water fluid.

See number 59

61. Though you’re not clear on exactly how to do it and unsure of the outcome, you manage to fix your first flat.

That first flat took at least 30 minutes to change, but I did it!

62. WALKING HOME IN YOUR CLEATS.

I’ve had to call in the SAG support (AKA my wife in the wagon) on two occasions…returning on foot would not have been an option as I was far too many miles away.

63. Getting so deep into the sport you think your helmet looks good.

Think it looks good? It looks awesome…even matches the bike!

64. Following a favorite pro racer–besides Lance Armstrong.

The majority of the athlete likes on my FB page are cyclists.

65. Finding out your favorite pro racer was doping.

All clean so far.

66. Wrapping your bar tape so the handlebar plug stays in and no bare bar shows at the tricky bend at the brake hood.

I’m a tape abuser, so I’ve had to rewrap far too many times. You’d think I’d have it mastered by now, but frankly I still stink at it.

67. Naming a route.

All of my regular routes have names. Just look at the ride stats at the bottom of each of my posts.

68. Bumping elbows, then being relaxed enough to make a joke about it with the person next to you.

Elbows, knees, hips, wheels, you name it, I’ve bumped it.

69. Sitting in with the big weekend training race.

Still not a racer…does watching tours on TV count?

70. Developing that “V” of muscle definition on the back of your calf.

Calf is spelled with a V not an F!

71. Espresso at the halfway point.

Alas I am not a Java Junkie, but that ice cold Coke will do instead.

72. Crashing and immediately asking, “How’s my bike?”

The couple of times I’ve gone to the ground, the first thing I checked was the bike.

73. Fixing your bike with a rock.

Rock, check…..Paper, check (the old dollar bill tire repair)….Scissors, still waiting.

74. Paying for a coach.

Why pay for a coach when you are surrounded by friends all eager to give you their cycling 2¢. And anyways, the best coaching advice is to ride a lot.

75. Figuring out that training advice doesn’t get much better than “Ride lots.”

See number 74

76. Clacking into a rough tavern in cleats and spandex.

No one messes with bad ass cyclists in loud lycra!

77. Having a position on Bartali vs. Coppi.

Before my time, but I do have an opinion on Contador vs Schleck.

78. Throwing up after a sprint.

Just a little in my mouth!

79. Chasing back on after a flat.

Always a long chase with my slow changing tire skills.

80. Winning a town-sign sprint and remembering it forever.

Non-racer…for the time being.

81. Explicating your training in exquisite detail on a blog, then realizing nobody cares.

What????? No one reads this blog??????

82. Watching the compressed CO2 from your only canister shoot off into the air instead of into the tube.

And this is why you always carry 2 canisters for every tube.

83. Matching your bar tape to your tire’s sidewall– then realizing on your next ride that your bike looks like it’s been decorated by a blind pimp.

It’s all basic black for me. Colored tires and tape just don’t do it for me.

84. Riding someplace you’ve always driven.

Almost everyday.

85. Outsprinting a crazed dog.

…and barking at it while doing it!

86. Summiting an H.C. climb.

At 70 feet, the causeway bridge to Sanibel and Captiva is far from a Hors catégorie climb….although it has felt like one on certain occasions.

87. Waving at a cyclist coming the other way and being ignored.

They are not ignoring you, they are just extremely focused on the road.

88. Getting annoyed by an uninvited wheel sucker.

Actually I don’t mind as long as they are polite. The more the merrier when cycling, even if they are just wheel sucking.

89. Getting so fast you’re confident enough to ride slow.

One is never fast enough, but curiously, riding slow is very hard to do.

90. Wondering if cycling matters too much.

Never!

91. Not caring if it does.

Always!

92. Surfing traffic on adrenaline and luck in one of the world’s 10 biggest cities.

I used to cycle back in my hometown of Chicago, but we stuck to the miles and miles of trails in the Des Plaines Valley.

93. Sitting up, taking your hands off the bar on a downhill.

Downhill doesn’t last long enough to let go.

94. At the PTA meeting, looking around at all the fat parents.

Guilty!

95. Dropping someone half your age.

A guilty pleasure!!!!!!

96. Outclimbing someone half your size.

Another guilty pleasure!!!!!

97. Passing someone whose bike costs twice as much as yours.

And yet another guilty pleasure…all three bring a big smile to my face!

98. Looking inside the bottle you’ve been using all season, seeing mold.

Hey we eat blue cheese don’t we…what’s the difference?

99. Dismissing what used to be your favorite cycling magazine because it keeps repeating topics.

Even the best reruns get old with time.

100. Reading The Rider.

I haven’t had the pleasure yet, but it is on my reading list.

101. Coming home from Europe with a cobblestone in your luggage.

Not yet…hopefully some day.

102. Finding out no one makes your favorite handlebar-bend anymore.

Although I’m a creature of habit, I can adapt to new gear.

103. Riding down a trail you couldn’t safely walk.

Not unless it’s paved!!!!!

104. Telling the joke, “God wishes he was Eddy Merckx.”

That and a good Jens Voigt quote are always welcomed in a group ride.

105. Cheating a crosswind by joining an echelon.

We’ve even formed a double echelon on occasion…the wind is our mountain here in Florida.

106. Feeling superstrong, then turning around for the ride back and realizing you had a tailwind.

Guilty! Worst part is it usually beats you up pretty bad as you burnt yourself up on the downwind ride.

107. Pedaling the Brooklyn Bridge, toward Manhattan, at night.

No, but does the “mighty mount causeway” in the morning count?

108. Being the person whose bike squeaks drive everyone nuts.

Two words….bike prep!

Well there you have it. 108 moments, and not a single mention about cycling nude at a world naked bike ride. Perhaps that is number 109!

Route: Coconut-40 + FGCU Parking Garages
Ride Time: 2:35:18
Stopped Time: 1:18:39
Distance: 44.74 miles
Average: 17.28 mph
Fastest Speed: 41.32 mph
Ascent: 812 feet
Descent: 788 feet
Calories: 2115

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2 thoughts on “Cycling Rites of Passage

  1. I’ve done at least 101 of your 109 items. However, the first time you have to stop for a “nature break” when the temperature is below zero (F) you will hate bibs — there are parts of your body that you really don’t want to have suffer frostbite!

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