I have probably mentioned a time or two that I ride a bicycle, the bicycle above as a matter of fact, a Specialized Roubaix in Satin Black. She is a fine and dependable steed that is not only fast, light and agile but looks good too. This machine is what I spend 10-12 hours a week on, my big ass on that little tiny hard saddle (it’s not a seat).
I know the vision you have of a roadie (a cyclist that rides a road bike), ultra skinny with no muscle mass to speak of and toothpick arms and legs that are shaved (the legs not the arms). Sadly, I would ruin that vision for you. I am over six feet tall and weigh 240 pounds. I don’t like to shave my face so I am certainly not going to shave my legs. Honestly I am not sure where I would stop shaving if I did, I know, to much information, sorry. I am built like a cinder block, actually a UPS delivery truck, which is my nickname on the road “What can brown do for you”. I know it seems cruel but it is a cruel sport, read on.
Being a “big boy” has its advantages and clearly it’s disadvantages.
- I can go down hill faster than most (yes a version of this will show up in the disadvantage column).
- I block the wind for everyone behind me. Not really an advantage for me but on windy days I am very popular.
- I have a big engine so on the flat sections or sprinting to the stop sign I am usually in the front.
- I sweat a lot so I don’t get overheated like the skinny guys that don’t sweat. I also have to drink more water than they do but we should all drink more water.
- If gravity is my friend coming down a hill it is my mortal enemy going up. Anything over a 4% grade and I look like I am pedaling through the mud. It is a cruel and lonely existences in the back but I do get to sing my least favorite song “All by myself, Don’t wanna be, All by myself, Anymore”.
- My big engine is great for short burst but the older I get the shorter my burst become. I may still have the legs for it but my heart will remind me it has the last word in the matter.
- Cycling clothes are made for skinny guys (race cut and club “chunky” cut). Not to many cycling shops have a “husky section” like Sears did when I was a kid.
- Remember, I sweat a lot, so if you are taking advantage of my wind blocking abilities on a 95 degree day with 100% humidity you better bring a rain jacket.
The reasons I ride are numerous, my physical health, my mental health, the companionship, the fellowship, the adventure and the scenery. I don’t get paid to ride a bicycle so I don’t need to climb like I am trying to win a king of the mountain jersey, or descend at 50 mph. I ride for me, at my own pace, a pace that allows me to stop and help a turtle cross the road or watch baby goats frolic in a pasture.
I am an evangelist for cycling. I love all things about it from lubing a chain to adjusting a derailleur. I love the mechanics and the science of the sport. We are a quirky group that come in different shapes, sizes and with different motivations. We have unspoken rules on what to wear, what not to wear and how you wear it. If someone we know wrecks we always ask about the bike first and then if they are okay, because after all, it is “all about the bike”. But the one thing we all have in common, the one thing every cyclist can agree on “A bad day on the bike will always beat a good day in the office”. Always.
“I’ll never be anything special on a bicycle. But the beauty is that gravity hates us all, and it punishes us according to our sins and genetics. We can strive to be faster, can strive for the grace that eludes us, both on our bikes and in our lives. We can compete not against but with our friends to propel one another up hills, through hard times.”- Matthew Beaudin