Skip to main content

The year of the bicycle

This is the summer I've become obsessed with bicycles. If you want to know what I've been quietly doing the past few months in my spare time, the answer is learn everything a person can about cycling. Which is funny because I'm not "that" type of guy. I'm not a gearhead, mechanical, or in any way in my past someone who is drawn to pretty, shiny things.

But Kelly is tired of me asking if it's a compact crank on her Scott CR1 Team or what the gearing is...I'm not even sure she could have told you that was the make/model. Don't get me wrong, she loves her bike and I've been told not to change anything on it because it's just the way she wants it. I get it now...having advanced in knowledge significantly since the time I innocently wanted to take a water bottle cage.

Part of it is that Chicago is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the US. Part of it is my Father's Day present--a sporty little flat-bar road hybrid--that I've been taking for 25 mile rides so that I feel like a kid again. Bikes are everywhere here. We have a great infrastructure and some great trails and bike routes.

The thing that has really surprised me, however, is how wrench-y I've gotten. Some of it is from having decided that I think I'm ready to take the next step up and get a road bike. I'm not doing nearly the amount of trail riding on gravel that I thought I would...turns out I much prefer the streets.

I've learned how to change a flat, the best tires, get that pesky rear wheel off that has the chain on it. I can undo brakes and tell you the difference between an 11-32 cassette and a 12-25. Which components are the higher grade. I can talk cadence and form and fit and differences in cleats. The common sizes for stems and have learned to inflate presta valves. The debate about sharing the lane or taking the lane for safety.

It's a whole new world. And if you ask me lately whether I'd rather go on a 3 hour run or a 3 hour bike ride, I'm almost always going to pick the latter. It's more fun, more stimulating, more interesting to watch the world fly by.

More importantly, it's something that Kelly enjoys too...maybe not as geeky...but next year with a trailer for the kids it will be, hopefully, many happy weekends riding around the area. By myself, too...the merits of training for fitness and endurance are there. It's a free, earth-friendly way to get around.

So just don't be surprised if cycling starts popping up in my casual conversations. I'm trying to keep it to myself so you don't have to listen to my inner debate about 700x25 or 700x23 tires.

There's just a simple elegance to them as machines that I've come to appreciate.