Confessions of a Middle Aged Roadie: The Call of the Road

I swore I would never buy a road bike.

While living in Charlottesville, I was an avid mountain biker, spending many an hour at Walnut Creek Park , churning out miles of single track. When I moved to the mountains of Southwest Virginia in 2004, I figured my mountain biking would continue. Oh, how I was wrong. I lived in the mountains, but the closest trail systems were over an hour away and grown up responsibilities got in the way of me traveling that far to ride.

For ten years, my mountain bike’s tires gathered more dust than dirt, and still I didn’t consider buying a road bike.

Then, three years ago at the age of 41, I noticed a stressing development. There was a startling correlation between my waist size and my blood pressure. My pants were fitting a bit too snugly. My doctor paused after reading my blood pressure and asked me about any family history of heart issues. These were, of course, the natural byproducts of eating and exercise habits that can only be described as barely mediocre.

Something had to give and I had to get moving.

It was around that time I noticed that a number of my friends were avid cyclists. I chatted them up. I weighed the pros and cons and my interest grew. And then I went back on my word and made the plunge. I cashed out some money from savings and got some great advice from my soon to be cycling buddies before settling on a Specialized road bike that I picked up from the great folks at Reedy Creek Bicycles in Kingsport, Tennessee.

And I haven’t looked back.

Mainly because I am always looking forward, trying to keep up with the much faster guys I ride with.

That means the road hasn’t been easy. On my first ride, while climbing what had to be a summitless hill, I was convinced that I had made a serious mistake. I had wasted a lot of money. My wife was going to kill me. The next hill – and the next month of riding – only reinforced that belief. Instead of getting easy, it just got a little less miserable.

But I kept at it. And the miles keep coming. I am sitting in front of the computer with aching legs, the result of  finishing a 52 mile race, complete with over 4000 feet of climbing, just yesterday. Three years ago, I would never have imagined making that statement.

For a now 44 year old dad with limited time for exercise, getting that road bike has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I am hoping that, through this blog, I can share a bit of that experience with you out there. I know that there are a lot of guys out there just like me. Guys in their forties looking for something to do to get the heart rate up and the pants size down. Guys with their dad bods that look at a lycra cycling kit and think, “Yeah, no thanks. I won’t be wearing that.” Guys with jobs and kids and soccer practices and piano recitals who are looking for a way to fit that exercise time in when life pulls them in eight different directions.

I’d like to convince them that the road is calling.

Places to Go, Things to See: