Alex Chesbro's Blog

I Miss My Bike | May 12, 2009

So the Giro d’Italia started a few days ago.  It’s Lance Armstrong’s 1st time riding it, and he’s going to do well.  Probably won’t win, but hopefully his teammate Levi Leipheimer will.  Right now, after Stage 4, Armstrong is in 6th, and Levi is in 5th.  So far so good.  But it’s the Grand Tours that really get me thinking.  And missing.  My.  Bike.

See, I used to be in great shape.  I wasn’t always a rolling ball of Prosciutto.  I played soccer in high school, and somewhat dominated the 400 hurdles in my section (not state…those bastards were FAST!).  Then in college at American University, I discovered cycling.  I saw a poster on the wall for the team and was like, “hey, what the hell, how hard can it be?  I used to run for a quarter mile as fast as I possibly could while jumping over 3-foot-high planks of wood.”

Damn.  If I’ve ever been wrong in my life, it was then.  Racing bikes is by far the hardest sport I’ve ever done (soccer, rugby, track, bowling).  At that time, AU’s team was small…maybe 10 or 12 dedicated people who fostered and encouraged everyone, including me.  I was definitely not in “bike shape.”  I was in “soccer shape,” and those are 2 totalllllly different things.  But anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me and helping me train for the season that I was able to race.  It’s an experience I’ll never forget.  And I’d like to take the time to say congratulations to the current team, which is even bigger and better than when I left.  

Sorry about the digression.  I got a great deal on a Cannondale R1000 (great entry race bike, btw) thanks to the partnership with Cannondale and City Bikes.  If you’re ever in DC and need a bike or a bike fixed…go to City Bikes.  It was then I fell in love.  The training rides were tough, because I wasn’t in bike fitness, but I persevered.  Then over spring break we went to Boone, NC to bike through the mountains for a training camp.  You can read about my time there here on my old blog.

It wasn’t until after the school year was over that I really got into training and riding a lot.  When I got home to Virginia at my parents house, in the 3 or 4 months before I left for study abroad, I would go out and ride just about every day.  Some people go to the gym.  I woke up and went on a 2 or 3 hour bike ride.  It was glorious.  The wind in your face, sun shining.  Hell, I didn’t let rain stop me either.  Sometimes, I would wait until 1pm to go for a ride, so I could improve my tan lines.  Yes, I shaved my legs.  I’ll admit…I grew to like them.  There’s nothing like putting on a freshly washed pair of jeans on freshly shaved legs.  Or crawling into bed with freshly washed sheets and freshly shaved legs. I had those horribly awesome tan lines.  It was amazing.

There’s absolutely nothing like biking up a mountain and pushing through the constant burning pain in your legs for an hour or so.  But the reward is waiting for you at the top.  Because the only thing better than loving the pain, is the ride back down. There’s nothing better than bombing down a descent at 40 or 50 mph with nothing between you and a bad case of road rash but a 25mm piece of rubber.  It’s heaven on earth.  I haven’t gone skydiving yet, but I’m going to assume going 50mph downhill on a bike ranks a close second to that.

I miss my bike.  I had to sell it to make it to Germany this winter.  I wish I could just saddle up and go out on a ride right now.  I know it would get me back into shape.  But I was spoiled by that bike.  I don’t have $2,000 to spend on a bike that I would ride every day, and I really don’t want to settle for anything less.  I want to sprint at 30mph on a nice flat road.  Draft behind cars.  Climb hills and mountains that I would never think I’d make it up.  I don’t care how long it would take me.  Because I would have accomplished that.  

So it’s with those discombobulated thoughts that I leave you with a plea.  Watch the Giro, or the Tour de France.  Those skinny guys in spandex riding their bikes, they’re working harder than you ever have at any sport.  They don’t ride for 3 hours and stop.  Some of the stages are pushing 200 miles.  And the Grand Tours last for a month, with only 2 or 3 rest days.  I mean, the Tour de France is almost 3,000 miles long.  You do the math.  Anyway, I love cycling, and thanks to the guys at AU, I always will.

I think I miss the tan lines the most.

I leave you finally with what seems to be the only picture I have from my racing days.  I’m behind the colossal Asian guy, getting ready to pull around him.  He had crashed early in the race, and we worked together to catch back up to the pack with 7 laps left.  We sat with the pack, and he crashed again, fuckin’ up our chances of placing in the top 10.  We shoulda just kept pounding it out.  Oh well.  Great times. Thanks for reading.


P.S.    Sorry the last 2 posts have been really long.  I just can’t wrap up my love for cycling in a few paragraphs.  I promise I’ll have some shorter posts coming up.


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