PostHeaderIcon LIFE BIKE – Before Horses

I was living in Johnson County, Kansas in the city of Lenexa.  This was the early 90′s.  My golf obsession had ended and my body was getting thicker, maybe wider would be a better term.

Something about a bike caught my attention.  Something about a weight loss exercise program using a bike!  I need a thinner body.  The answer just  might  be a bike! I have stored in my garage, a stylish three speed English bike from my college days, a mere thirty year old or so bike.  Three speed bikes became the new favorite bike for cycling across large college campuses and I still have mine!

From the 1930′s through the 1960′s, English-made 3-speed bicycles were, in some respects, the ultimate in human-powered transportation. They spawned a vibrantly active club culture that has never been equaled. The bicycle provided unprecedented individual mobility to the British working class.

The bicycle industry, centered in the enormous Raleigh factory in Nottingham, was one of the most important in the country. The workers who built these bicycles rode the same kind of bicycles to work.

Raleigh Superbe roadster bicycle

I dug my bike out of the very organized junk pile in the garage.  Imagine a bike that will go three speeds fast.  I took the bike to the bike store to get the gears working.   There were  strange beasts at the bike store.  Drop your pants, they have twenty one speed bikes now!  The bike store bikes were flashy outrageous in their coloring. My English bike is dullard dark green.

I took my dullard green bike home and got on. I was excited to get my working bike back.  It wasn’t exciting negotiating the boy’s bike bar, but  I was excited about getting on a bike.  How many years has it been?  I rolled down my street on a bike!  In a few moments, my hair was flying in the wind and I laughed out-loud.  I’m young again!  I’m eighteen years old, riding this bike around my college campus.  I’m ten years old and riding my bike around the streets of my small town.  Yee Haw!  The wind is smoothing out the wrinkles on my face.  I have traveled about two blocks…a far ride.  That’s when I met, the upward slope.  I can’t really call it a hill.  But, my speed stalled out and I experienced this thing called “struggle”.  As I was struggling to make the bike wheels turn, my mind went back to the bike store with the flashy pretty things that had twenty one speeds.  I NEED ONE OF THOSE!

The next day, I was back at the bike store and I bought a flashy yellow with green slashes of color TREK bike.  I have no idea why I bought a yellow flashy bike.  It stood there calling my name. The sales person told me it was my size and perfect for me.  I bought a yellow mountain bike!

The bike and I were posed on the driveway for a brief second and off I went.  I rode around the block in style.  I laughed out-loud again.  I figured out how to shift…tricky things are these gears.  That took me about ten minutes.  I was ready to face the slope again.  Up we went and I shifted down down down until I got to speed twenty one.  I made it up the slope.  I sailed home in triumph.The rest of the week, I sailed around my neighborhood.  Lenexa had a big neighborhood and one hill.  After a time, I defeated the hill.  I was able to ride up the hill at speed twenty and arrive at the flat cement alive and undaunted.

I started to become a bike fanatic.  I read about bikes.  I studied my bike.  I decided that my mountain bike tires slowed me down when coming up those hills.  I took my bike back to the happy store owner and traded my barely used tires to new thinner and flatter tires.  I did not need deep knobby tread to ride on cement.  I got nice slightly thinner smoother tires.  Oh that made a difference!  I was able to get up the hill at only speed nineteen. I had two speeds left to burn!

Now I was riding all around downtown Lenexa, my neighborhood and another adjoining neighborhood.  I had conquered Lenexa! Neighborhoods became boring.  I’ve seen the same yards dozens and dozens of times by now.  Where to go now?

Shawnee Mission Park beckoned.  I took a car ride to the park.  It wasn’t too far away.  The hills were few and not very steep.  I am ready!

My water bottle is filled and I head off for Shawnee Mission Park adventure.  I was so thrilled when I made it to the park entrance! Thrilled! The park entrance was good enough for the first visit.  I  rested and made the triumphant return home.  My body started experiencing something called calf and thigh tightening heading to muscle.

The next day, I biked to the park.  This time I entered the park.  The park has a paved road that goes around the entire park.  I turned right and sailed down a longt hill traveling at least 100 mph.  Oh wow, now my hair really did sail, all the short curls were straightened in the wind.  This is wondrous and heady.   I sailed down that hill to the big beautiful lake.  What a thrill! In that moment, I became a road biker with a mountain bike with slick tires.

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