Last month, after I Twittered about riding five days in a row for the first time since July, I got a reply from my friend Mike Weiland (@weiland): @bikenoob How different our styles are, I think I’ve gone 3 days in a row without riding. That was my offseason last month.
Mike and I started riding our road bikes at about the same time, a little less than three years ago. He was one of the first people to contact me when I started this blog, and was excited about starting to build mileage and tackle some challenging rides.
We’ve met up several times at organized rides, but we’ve never actually ridden together. That’s because since we first made contact, our cycling paths have diverged. Mike’s an athlete — hockey player, mountain biker — and he’s set his sights on getting fast. On the organized rides, he’s either ridden longer routes than me, or took off quickly enough that he was out of my sight within a few minutes of the start. He’s also a lot younger than me — in his mid-30′s.
I’ve been interested in following his progress since then. Last year, he rode and finished Austin’s notorious Tour das Hugel (Tour of the Hills), 108 miles of the area’s toughest climbs. This year, he decided that if he was going to ride it again, he would do more than just survive. So throughout the year, I was treated to Tweets about his lunchtime hill repeats, his long hard weekend rides, his personal time trials on grades I won’t go near. He achieved his goal, and finished the Hugel an hour and a half faster than in 2008.
He also got interested in road racing. He’s still a Cat 5 racer, but is intent on working up to Cat 4. His races last year were experience builders, and he showed improvement each time he was out. Now, when he meets up with an area shop ride on the weekends, they know him by reputation, and he’s usually somewhere near the front, pushing the pace.
My cycling path took me the other way. I started riding because my knees were shot from running. I ride for fitness, but mostly, I ride because it’s fun. I don’t have an athletic background, and I’m not about to train rigorously. I’ve enjoyed riding in organized events, especially my first century ride, so I do try to push beyond my comfort zone from time to time. Still, my idea of a good ride is a 30-40 mile jaunt on Sunday mornings with the B group in my club, followed by a half-hour of chatting over coffee.
Riding five days in a row in December was worth a tweet, I thought. And when Mike responded the way he did, I had to laugh. Biking is different things for each of us — and it’s probably different yet for anyone reading this — and that’s just fine. As we plunge into the New Year, let’s think about what cycling means to us — and resolve to keep it fun, no matter what kind of riding we do.