Sunday, June 29, 2014

I've Got Some New (Bike) Shoes On...

Couldn't help but think of this song as I was writing this post....

I may not be doing a lot of walking in these new shoes, but I'm feeling pretty spiffy...and excited. A while back, I shared that I wanted to get more involved with group riding. I've met a few new people, and have had a few more experiences that have been encouraging. However, as I started to explore what it meant to get involved with this crowd, there was an ever-present push and pull that had me taking my time exploring this side of riding. (Yea, I'll get back to the "new shoe" theme in a bit.)

The push. The push to have a carbon-fiber frame with thin rims and wheels. The push to have "the right" kind of wardrobe. The push to get the gear - speedometers, a racing seat, sleeker helmet. However, I found the real push came from within. The push to feel like I was a credible road cyclist.

And then there was the pull. The pull to love the bike I have - the steel-framed Bianchi Volpe I spent months researching that I bought since it is designed for long-haul touring. (A dream of mine is to ride across country some day, by the way.) The pull to not want to give up the lifestyle biking I've preached on this blog. The pull to just be me.

I wanted to see how I would do compared to some more serious riders, so a few weeks back I participating in a ride where I knew the "racing/spandex" crowd would be. Over the course of the ride, I stayed with a group of riders that were totally my speed, strength and style. I didn't get left in the dust with my steel-framed, cage-pedaling biking-self. I realized that I could strike a balance. The pushing and pulling I was feeling was gone! Through this experience, I could explore and expand my bike riding style and capabilities, and still be me. It was a win-win.

Wanting to stay in rhythm with this group riding side of the bicycle crowd, I have purchased Shimano Dynalast SH-WR42W (for those that are paying attention). Yes, folks, that means I have made the switch from cages and pedals to clipless pedals. And, they fit wonderfully with the Giro pedals that originally came with my Bianchi Volpe I bought five years ago. (So, for the record, I have a touring bike, racing shoes and mountain biking pedals. That's quite the mixed bag.)

This weekend I spent some time with the great guys at Bike Street in Clemson. They switched out my pedals, tweaked my efforts at putting the cleats on my new shows, let me ride my bike on their trainer and were very supportive to my exploring a new side of biking. (All for a minimal cost, too!) I spent around an hour as they set me up and helped me get familiar with riding with these new shoes.

So, I've made the switch. But I'm exploring a new side of biking. And, I realized, that's okay. I'm really interested in creating a place for the non-racing bicyclists, letting folks know all they need is two wheels to get riding. And that's what I've spent a lot of time doing over the last seven years as a bicycle commuter, and the last three as a blogger. However, I'm interested in expanding my abilities and experiences, and finding new tribes to join. And that's what bike riding is all about - having new experiences, meeting new people and expanding your own horizon.

Hi Guys! Me and my new shoes.
I'm really excited to explore this new path. I'll still be commuting, and I'll still be blogging about riding for all. But, in the mean time, I'll be taking some new roads - with my new shoes on.

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