For three years, I rode with anonymous partners: snarling, four-legged beasts who, from under their rickety porches, sprinted ferociously across their yards toward my pedaling legs. Those rural Alabama dogs were just medieval. Yelling “Git!” and squirting them with water only fired them up like a religious tent revival. So I made friends with the only cyclists for 2,000 square miles—a 290-pound descendant of Vikings and an Indian doctor. It was the “safety in numbers” and “the big guy is the slowest” approach. Besides the dogs, there were no bike lanes, let alone bike paths.
Road-hogging monster trucks with spandex-phobic drivers and the oppressive Southern humidity now make me appreciate riding in Colorado.
How lucky we have it living on the Front Range: a spider web of multi-use paths right out our back door, nearly year-round riding weather, civil dogs and thousands of two-wheelers to make you feel guilty when you’re not riding. And nothing is more important than your health and your mental well-being. It’s like the financial adage to pay yourself first.
I’ve found a little forethought can go a long way in getting you back in the saddle.
First, inspect your sled. Make sure the tires aren’t dry-rotted, worn or cut. If you’re replacing them, spend some coin on a tire with a Kevlar belt for protection against goat heads. Take it to a shop for a tune-up. If you haven’t given it any love since Phish last played Red Rocks you’ll probably need to invest in at least a new chain and cassette.
Take stock of your gear. Is it time to upgrade the spandex? Bib shorts fit like a glove and won’t sag. Buy the best you can afford. Unless your helmet is only a few years old, buy a new one. Always wear quality sunglasses. An oft over-looked accessory—like a fanny pack—is chamois cream. Your Herman Miller pampered bum will certainly appreciate its cooling effects even during that lunch-hour ride.
Get off the main roads and onto the bike trails, paved paths and dirt roads. Your road bike can easily handle the terrain. And you’ll develop good control skills. If riding by yourself gets old, hook up with your local shop for a group ride or enlist a partner. If you don’t have a partner and no one wants to ride with you, just enjoy being on the ride. Listen to the prairie dogs barking. Watch a red-tail hawk soaring above the prairie dogs or a coyote slinking across the plains avoiding development.
No wonder our state motto is Nil sine numine. It is God’s country. Ride it.
+ Milram Bib Shorts ($150.00)
Have you worn the same shorts since Lance’s first Tour win? Slide into these pro-quality bib shorts—like traditional riding shorts sans waistband—making the ride a bit more comfortable and ensuring that breathing is not restricted.
+ Assos Chamois Cream ($21.95) Let’s just be honest, chaffing is not cool. Don’t get rubbed the wrong way: This all-natural wonder lotion reduces friction and keeps you in the saddle.
+ Get routes, rights and heaps of cycling info at bicyclecolo.org.
+ Louisville Velo Club rides six days a week leaving from Louisville Cyclery. Tuesdays are Ladies’ Rides. Get the schedule at louisvillecyclery.com.
+ Beginner and intermediate ladies, check out the Venus de Miles Women’s Bike Club. fullcycle.com.