My First Yearby Dick Krakowski
It started at Christmas when I was about 45. My last ex-wife and I received a pair of Huffy ten-speed bicycles from our children. I guess the thought of middle-aged parents convinced the kids that we needed exercise. So on a sporadic, and half-hearted effort, to say the least, I began cycling. A few years later in the midst of another divorce, I found myself living in town and closer to work. Economically, it was cheaper to cycle to work and bicycles were outlasting wives. The courts and lawyers were seeing to that. I began to commute. The old ten-speed got a workout and so did I, now knowing why it was called a “Huffy.” A purchase of a Mongoose mountain bike made things much easier. My commute on Oak Street was great because it was blocked off for what seemed like a couple of years for construction of a new 9th Street interchange. Naturally that didn’t stop the mountain bike, in fact, a nice little dirt hill remained at the end of the construction area for the longest time making the commute more fun although somewhat muddy at times.
A trip to the doctor about three years ago had shown elevated cholesterol and I had already been taking blood pressure medicine. I began efforts to remedy this by diet and weakly exercising (it should have been weekly). In the second year with no results, I increased my bicycle riding. I aimed for 500 miles ... and missed. Still no results. In November 2003, after sporadic efforts to ride with friends at work, I joined the Louisville Bicycle Club. The welcome I was shown was immediate and warm. I managed a few rides before the year was over trying my best to keep up with the other club members on the short Rif-Raf rides. On one of the first rides, I was encouraged to ride along with a very kind member on the 25-mile Heine Brothers Ride. I tried my best to keep up with the cute curly haired girl, but couldn’t go the distance. My efforts were applauded and advice was offered, I was hooked. Over the winter, I attended the bike maintenance classes; learning a lot thanks to the efforts of many unselfish club members willing to share their knowledge. Then came the purchase of a road bike in January of ’04 and things took off. I rode as much as I could.
My employer kept me busy on the weekends and still does, but I managed as many club rides as possible. More often than not, I rode with some guys I work with as we could ride right after getting off work. The miles started piling up and my endurance got better also. When nightly club rides began in the spring, I made as many as I could trying my best to ride with the first groups of riders. I usually wound up with the last group, pretty well spent. Using what I had learned at the bike classes regarding training and nutrition, I saw my speeds and endurance improve.
By April I was feeling better than I had felt in many years and it was time for my check up by my doctor. He and I were impressed! My cholesterol went down, my good cholesterol went up and I was taken off blood pressure medicine. If that’s not an incentive to continue riding, I don’t know what is. This was but the beginning. I have since sought and received more helpful tips on riding bicycles safely and more efficiently from so many club members actually eager to share their own wealth of information. Pace lines, group riding, nutrition, hydration, apparel, riding etiquette and that all important skill ... efficient store stops ... were but some of the topics for learning.
To be welcome warmly and made to feel a part of the club from my very first ride has been icing on the cake. This will be my mission, to ensure that new members receive all the benefits I was given for a paltry $15.00 a year. I have started to “give back” what was given to me. I have begun assuming some Ride Captain duties and I have agreed to help with the Nominating Committee. There will be more for me to do I’m sure.
Thanks to all the members of this club. I couldn’t begin to name all that have helped me so much, there were just so many who were helpful and unselfish towards me this first year. I am particularly grateful to the “Mad Dogs” for their incentive and encouragement toward improving my skills. All I can say in closing is, WHAT A YEAR!
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web posted: 6 November 2004
last updated: 8 November 2004