08. August, 02:17 Uhr
I had made this ID with the hope of using it to document my hike of the North Country Trail through North Dakota. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. 2 days into the hike and I was done. Every single muscle hurt, heels were completely shredded with worn blisters. All that even after doing some decent training walks and what I thought was properly breaking in my new boots. I had done a long distance walk before, and that was in Spain, over mountains and crap on the Camino de Santiago, so I thought the pancake-flat land of North Dakota would be a piece of cake. How wrong I was. I just wasn't up to the challenge.
Needless to say I was pretty down about the whole thing. My fitness levels have always been poor, but I seriously needed to evaluate myself now. I knew I had to do something, especially since I planned on going back to Spain next summer, but now I was seriously questioning that. So, I thought, screw it, I'll buy a bike.
The last time I owned a bike, the Huffy Sledgehammer was cool. I was 13 and in 8th grade. I got my license the next year and after that thought, "What's the point of a bike?" (You used to be able to get your license at 14 here.) Over the years, as I grew both up and out, I would occasionally hop on friends' bikes and give them a try. They always felt so wobbly and unsteady, thin and flimsy, or they were so freaking small it was like riding a child's bike.
All this ran through my mind as I began my search for a bicycle. Most bikes aren't designed with a 6'3, 300 lb guy in mind. So I started looking. "Hey this one looks like it might work! Oh, it's 2 grand. Well, what about this one? $1300. That one? $500." It was hard to justify spending so much money on something that I might not even stick with. So I started looking at the second-hand market around here, which is pretty slim pickings. Cheap Walmart bikes which at that point in my research I knew to steer clear of, or someone selling their $2000 bike for $1000. And hardly anything in my size.
The way things work, the more you look at a topic, the more targeted advertising gets you. So I saw an ad for Diamondback. Clicked on it and looked around their site and came across the Edgewood. $179 with the sale they had going on, so it was within my budget. Plus, heavy people such as myself are often steered towards "comfort" bikes, which this was, but wasn't nearly as dorky looking as some of the others I'd seen. Ah, what the hell? I ordered it.
(Sorry this next part turns into a big r/hailcorporate, but I LOVE my Diamondback!)
3 days later, this huge box is at my door. The assembly was pretty easy. I just had to put on the handlebars, the front wheel, the seat, the pedals, and hook up the brakes. And I was off. Well, I was off after adjusting the seat height and handlebars, but I was off on my first real bike ride in well over 20 years.
I instantly felt secure on the bike. It was solid. The only thing that was insecure was me, but like they say, you never forget how to ride a bike, and soon it was all coming back to me. I made my way over to the bike trail in town. It's a paved path that runs along the river.
I was surprised at how easy it was to shift. I've never had a bike with trigger shifters before. Much easier than those old lever things on a Huffy where you pretty much had to wrench on the things to get them to shift. But the way this thing shifted made it easy to shift down when going up a hill. The only problem was that it didn't want to shift onto the smallest cog. But I didn't care. I was having fun. I even PASSED a couple of people! I made a loop and headed back home to do some more adjustments. I even watched a few youtube videos and managed to get my derailleur working. So I went back out for another quick ride. When I got home, I pulled up the trail map and saw I had ridden 4 miles. I couldn't believe it. It didn't seem like 4 miles. Maybe like 1 mile, but not 4.
The next day I couldn't wait to get out again. This time I did 7 miles. I got some serious charlie horses in my thighs and sort of spent the whole ride trying to "adjust" myself so I was constantly squishing and shifting my fellas. (Boxers don't work on bikes after puberty. I've since remedied that issue with boxer briefs.)
This is now my 3rd week with the bike. I've been trying to put at least 10 miles on a day. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't. But today I went big and did 15. It's strange. I can't remember the last time I looked forward to doing something that was good for me. I'm currently laid-off from my job, but it's starting back up again next week. I intend to ride to work until the snow stops me from doing so. I may not reach my 10 miles a day, (12 hour shifts really take it out of me), but hopefully I can at least put some miles on when I'm working, and even more on my days off.
I'm hoping I can get my fitness up and some weight off so I'm able to make another pilgrimage in Spain next summer. Riding these past few days also has me thinking about becoming a better cyclist as well. I'd love get a proper mountain bike and take on some trails that are in the area, although I know I'm a long way from that.
To anyone that might be reading this who is on the fence about getting a bike, get off! Go buy one! Find one that fits you and your budget. If my poor, fat ass can find a bike and enjoy it, I'm sure yours can to!