I haven't ridden a bike in 20 years, how things have changed....
I'm going to blog this year during my first full season as a randonneur. I'm a former long distance runner that's converted to cycling. I started bike commuting in Jan 2008 on a Trek 7100 hybrid a couple of days a week. I enjoyed bike commuting, it was fun despite the traffic. Since I was recovering from yet another painful case of plantar fasciitus from running, bike commuting was quickly replacing running as my main form of exercise. Besides, 28 miles a day, I was too tired to think about running!
After a few months, I knew I wanted a better bike, the Trek was too uncomfortable, and I really didn't trust it carrying too much. I used a standard rear rack and a trunk bag. Just enough to carry clothes and food. I knew I wanted more...
After talking with a local friend, he pretty much told me I'd want a Surly. Specifically, I'd want the Long Haul Trucker complete. At first, I wasn't exactly sure if this was the kind of bike for me. I looked around at other bikes that cost less, but had some things missing here and there. Important stuff like braze-ons for racks. So, after about 2 months of thinking about it, comparing to the Trek 520 , the Surly won out. I thought the LHT had a slightly better ride than the 520. With Bush's stimulus check in hand, I went off to Adam's Ave Bikes and purchased a 58cm LHT complete in green.
I was commuting to work 3 days a week and enjoying it. One day on the way home from work when I was driving my truck, it started sputtering and would die at intersections. As luck would have it, I lost the lift pump on my Dodge 2500 diesel. Also as luck would have it, that pump is special order! It was going to take a week. Hmmm, well, I guess I'm going to ride full time the following week!
The Surly was new to me, but already proving to be an excellent ride. The first few days of riding to work weren't so bad. That first Friday though, I'm laying in bed as stiff as a board. My wife had already left for work, my truck wasn't fixed yet, so I had to ride to work. I told myself to just take it easy and get there, which I did. Well, the autoparts stare goofed up my order! I was going to have to commute another full week!! The second week wasn't so bad, actually I was starting to get used to riding to work everyday. I decided then to just ride full time. I needed something more spacious than my little trunk bag and a pair of Ortlieb Back Roller Classics were bought. Here near San Diego, diesel prices were over $5/gal!! Riding to work was saving a ton of cash, of which my lovely bride was OK with me purchasing stuff to make my commutes better/safer. This was getting addictive.
After a few months of bike commuting, I was longing for something more. The thoughts of riding across America started entering my head. Since that was too much to accomplish over a weekend, I ran - no pun intended - across this local San Diego riding group that really picqued my interest. I knew I'd like to go out on long rides, but was fairly intimidated by going out with large, faster groups. I'm not the definition of fast on a bike by any means, so riding with the San Diego Randonneurs looked like fun.
My first ride past 14 miles was a 105K (65 miles) populaire. I loved it. My next big leap was a 300K (186 miles) brevet from Old Town San Diego, to Huntington Beach and back. I was hooked. It was a slightly hilly ride, but very warm that weekend. A couple of the more experienced and faster riders stuck with us newbies giving me all kinds of great information about randonneuring. I don't remember how long it took me, but I ended up finishing in the dark.
I made another attempt at a brevet, the Jacumba 200K (184 miles). I figured I rode a 300K, I should be able to ride a 200K - right? Well, I learned something very important that day - a very hilly 200K in high temps in the east county of San Diego is much harder than a 300K that's flat by the ocean. I made it to the 100K turn around, all covered in white salty sweat, feeling not so great. It was high winds and hills on the return. I bailed, quit, I couldn't ride back. My wife drove out to get me. I was still hooked! I have to stop riding on Labor Day weekend due to coaching my son's soccer team. 2009 couldn't get here soon enough.
That's my story about how I turned from a runner to a cyclist....