I started listing things on my personal Facebook page for which I was, and am, grateful. It’s not an easy habit to stay in, as I have a difficult time with any new habit. In this season of gratitude, this column offers an easy way to get back into a good habit.
I am simply thankful for bicycles. Since I was eight-years-old, bicycles have been freedom, to me. Freedom from worry, from conflict, from boredom. It has grown since I have grown. I am thankful for bicycles because they give me freedom from most medical problems. People who know me will be quick to point out my harrowing crash stories, but crashes are still rare. In exchange for the occasional crash, scrape, one single broken bone and many scars, I have a lot of great stories. I have no chronic medical problems. I am on no prescription medicine of any kind. I am as fit as I have ever been and I’m able to swim with my 11-year-old daughter as a result of being in this kind of shape.
I have more than one friend who has been diagnosed with some disease related to a sedentary lifestyle, enlarged hearts, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, this sort of thing. Mid 40s is way too young for these issues. Thanks to bicycles, I do not have them, and for this, I am thankful.
I am thankful to my father for instilling an active lifestyle in me. That made the last paragraph possible. He also bought my first bike for me. When I got older, the two of us cannibalized a pair of bike to make one good bike.
In an odd, backhanded sort of way, I am thankful that my misspent late teens resulted in not having a car. This would lead me to my first bicycle purchase. In 1989, I bought a year-old Schwinn High Sierra mountain bike. At the time, it was mid-range at $600. I would ride that bike all over; to school, to work, to visit friends and girlfriends, and when I made some upgrades and moved to Colorado in 1995, I rode it in a few races.
I am thankful for the outdoor-loving culture of the Centennial State. The culture pulled me into several different riding styles. After upgrading bikes in 1996, I spent the next two years racing cross country, downhill and even a few duel slalom races. I was never great, but I enjoyed it.
I’m thankful for a particular roommate of mine when I lived in Golden. This guy took me to Moab my first time. He also regularly whipped me racing. He gave me a target, a goal, and the knowledge of some of the best mountain biking terrain on earth.
I’m thankful that the depth and breadth of the cycling culture on the Front Range knows no bounds. When I started having difficulties with mountain biking, I was able to pick up other disciplines. I bought a cyclo-cross bike, originally as a commuter. It allowed me to enjoy my commute from southwest Denver to downtown. The drive made my cranky and no fun. When I started to ride it, things improved.
I am thankful for all of the roads both here in Northern Colorado, and throughout the state. I am thankful for traditional road bikes. When I started to get into the mountain bike scene, the term “Roadie” was one of derision. Now, I enjoy it all. Along those lines, I’m thankful for triathlons and the special sort of suffering they offer.
I am thankful for the many magazines I have subscribed to over the years. Some I read for the technology, some for advice, and at least one, Bike, for the pictures. I still receive four different bike related magazines. I get everybody’s favorite, “Bicycling”. I get the local favorite, “Velo”, formerly “VeloNews”. I receive “Trathlete” and when I want the heart and soul sort of articles, I will swing by Macdonald Books and pick up “pelotone”.
I am thankful, most of all, to my family, who tolerate this lifestyle, this habit that they don’t always understand. They put up with the occasional expensive purchase, the penchant for flashy, tight spandex and retro wool. I think Kendra actually likes that I am much, much more likely to pick up an exotic bike then hit on an exotic woman. This lifestyle is better for my marriage, in that way.
I am thankful most of all for my wife, who kisses me even after I’ve been riding for several hours, helps clean my wounds, puts up with racing broadcasts in the summer and cycling documentaries in the winter. She has even tried multiple times to enjoy riding, herself, though, my devotion to the sports remains a mystery to her. I am thankful for her support, whether training, racing, touring or fund-raising. She is the best thing to ever happen to this bike geak, and for that, I am thankful.