The Journey From “Helmet Club” to Century Finisher
My bike riding adventure started on a normal evening in the spring of 2008. I was at home for dinner and my Dad and brother were preparing for another 200-mile gravel grinder (s/o to #dk200!). I teased them for being crazy and they challenged back that I should get a taste of the madness and ride a century at the end of the summer. I had no reason to take them (or my encouraging mom and sis-in-law) seriously.
I grew up at my Dad’s triathlons and my childhood Saturday morning’s consisted of sleeping in while Dad rode a leisurely 75 miles before fixing us breakfast. Bikes have been part of my life since before I could walk and the only interest I’ve ever had in them was in 6th grade when I briefly found the freedom they could give you. It was the best, until the neighborhood boys decided our helmets were super-uncool, deemed us the “Helmet Club” and threw rocks at us. Considering Dad wouldn’t let me or any of my friends (sorry about that, guys) leave the house without a helmet, biking’s status took a real toll.
But for some reason, this particular spring evening was different. I took them seriously and decided to give biking a whirl again. I recruited my athletic and adventurous best friend and we started training (this time we wore our helmets with pride). Our first few rides were a complete disaster. We showed up at fast group rides in running shorts and cotton tank tops and struggled to get our bikes off the car rack before the spandex-clad badasses tore out of the parking lot.
But, we stuck with it. My family took us under their wings and taught us the basics:
- Wear cycling shorts and save your butt
- Don’t wear underwear with your cycling shorts
- Don’t swerve to the middle of the road when you look behind you
- Do keep riding when you drink water
- Go ahead and try out shifting
Before you knew it, we were out for half-day rides and learning more advanced lessons. That summer we rode our first century. It was the hottest day of the year. A brutal, 100*+ day with a scorcher sun and no breeze. We were the last two to finish. We cried, we rode with our eyes closed, we shut the course down. But we did it. And we got the celebratory Gatorade shower shot to prove it.
I’ve been riding ever since and love to share the joy it can bring. If you want to get started, but not sure where to start, check out my “The Basics of Buying a Bike” post– you’re gonna love it!