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bicycling - bikes

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Zeno Marx

Well-known member
Jun 26, 2010
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The Tour de France ended today. One of my favorite times of the year. Coffee and bicycling makes for a good morning. I don't follow it like I once did, which is funny now that it is almost guaranteed to be televised somewhere. Back in the old days, it was a treat to get to see it. Peacock had both USA coverage and European coverage. Most of the same camera footage, but different analysts and discussions. Both were good, and the USA had the classic commentators with Phil Liggett. If you follow bicycling in the USA, you know his voice.

My favorite was ABC Wide World of Sports covering the Paris-Roubaix. Watching them battle it out on the cobblestones, wrecks, and being covered in grime by the end. I'd never seen anything like it. As cool as the Tour is, this is the race to watch.

I wish they talked about the technical side and mechanics more. It might seem ho-hum because nearly everyone can ride a bike, but it is a very technical sport. Cadence, making circles, and RPM. I remember the first time I rode with a trained cyclist, thinking it wouldn't be any big deal to at least keep up with them for the first few miles. Wrong. They were probably riding at around 90RPM, while I was struggling to keep in the 50s. I'm not interested in counting cycles and doing all that jazz, but it was interesting to witness that first time. And the bikes! Bicycle technology has come a long way.

I grew up in a small town, where the kids rode bikes to get everywhere. We lived on the outer edge of town, so we were about a mile from downtown. I rode downtown to the dime store for candy and comics sometimes several times a day. I'd even go get groceries for my mom on my bike (on credit). And we had the luxury of having a bike repair shop ran by a grumpy Europhile guy who wore a beret and rode around town with his wife on a tandem. His garage was wall-to-wall bikes. And yes, that's a luxury. Most rural farm towns do not have bike shops and repairman. I didn't know it at the time, but he planted a seed for me to get into bicycling in my early teens. I was more excited to get a great bike than I was a car. I never did get a very good one, as even back then, the good ones were several hundreds of dollars. I quickly realized I wasn't built for it though. I didn't have the lung capacity for it. Racing didn't seem that fun anyway, because I was already tired of competition sports. I got into touring. Riding on back roads from my town to the other towns and back. Dreaming of having everything I owned in panniers and riding around the country. Freedom. The wind. Open country.

On a family vacation, I got to see Olympic trials in Colorado Springs in their velodrome. Talk about alien stuff to a country kid. And then with movies like Breaking Away. Bicycling is the coolest.