How does a 58 year old theologian/Rabbi /Poet become an avid bicyclist, let alone a blogger? Here is the story in a nutshell:
Back in May of 2006 my wife an I went for a Sabbath walk from our Center City Philadelphia townhouse up to the Schuylkill River Park. This beautiful multi-use trail was recently extended down near to our home. It goes from there to Valley Forge National Park. We sat on a bench that Saturday afternoon and over the course of the hour or so we were there a wide variety of bicyclists rode past us from fully outfitted folks who looked like they belonged at the Tour de'France, to elderly couples on old coasters (a term we didn't know them.) I remarked to my wife that bicycling looked like fun and after a brief discussion in which she agreed, indicated she'd like to try it too and that we'd never really developed a hobby together despite my attempts to get her to play golf and her attempts to get me to enjoy dancing, we decided bike riding might be the thing. So I began to visit bike stores and search on the internet for information. I was astonished by the prices. And because we were both small in stature, the few bikes I had tried on for size at local shops were not comfortable (some day I'll come back and comment on the dumb salespeople who didn't tell me that smaller frame sizes might be available, probably because the model and make of bikes they were pushing didn't go down to the 14 inch frame I would need.) Then a friend suggested Craig's list and sure enough within a day I'd found a guy selling bikes out of his garage. I had ignorantly decided that I wanted a bike without handbrakes or gears, since that's what I remembered from my childhood. I bought a 26 inch Coaster Schwin for myself and a twenty inch Winabago folding bike for my wife. The first time we rode out together I couldn't comfortably stop, reached out to use my wife as a support and we both hit the pavement together. I was probably riding an 18 inch frame. A few days later my wife had a terrible medical emergency that landed her in Intensive Care for a week on a respirator followed by a month's recovery (not related to our biking mishap.) When she was well enough to ride her anger at my having pushed her over was gone and, frankly, we'd both come to realize how precious life is, so we set out to ride again. But this time we knew we needed new bikes, with gears and hand-brakes and smaller sized. Once again we went shopping stupidly (it's amazing how much money you can waste trying to save money!)Her new bike, a 24 inch Schwin came from Toys R Us and my 24 inch Mongoose cost us about $200 together, twice what our used bikes had cost. And I must say that they served us well. They helped us become familiar with using the gears and the breaks. We took them with us on our Pocono Mountain vacation and rode everyday. By the end of two weeks I had conquered the six mile ride around the developement we were staying at. The first time out I had given up after about half a mile. My wife was still covering a bit less ground, but we were having great fun. Back at home we began the daily practice that we've maintained since then of rising at 4:45 AM in order to be out of the house by about 5:30 to ride the previously mentioned Schuylkill River trail. At first 3 miles round trip, then 4, then 5; now we do the entire 12.5 mile loop every morning. But soon enough things began to happen to our box-store bikes. Chain falling off every day, gears slipping. It was time for a visit to the local bike shop. And then again. And then we were told that he could keep fixing our bikes but they were not going to stay fixed and he explained the difference between a good bike, even at low-end prices and what we had. He also informed us that 24 inch wheels were for children and no matter how short we were we were adults. He explained about frame sizes etc. So we set out to search for bikes again, this time visiting multiple bike shops, researching more knowlegably on-line and ended up each with TREK Navigators, the bikes we now use everyday and love. My wife still rides the 12 mile trail with me everyday, but on the one day a week she goes to visit our grandaughter I ride myself to Valley Forge and back - the whole fifty miles. Who would have thought! and I've lost forty pounds since July, bought a whole new wardrobe, joined the League of American Bicyclists among other groups etc. Meanwhile my morning ride just isn't enough, so I'll end this introductory post by sharing the fact that in order to ride more around town during the working day and not have to worry about using two and three locks to secure my bike, today there arrived two new Citizen folding bikes for Annie and me. It was too late in the day to ride them, but they look great and I might as well start by describing their maiden voyages tomorrow. And then, since I ride and think about bicycling everyday, I intend to write here every or almost everyday. One of the first things I'll write about after the new Citizens will be the many wonderful bicycling blogs that I've come to read everyday and inspired me to join this aspect of the wheeled fraternity.