Landscape: Country Roads

Future Derby Star?I’ve been back in Louisville, Kentucky this week visiting my parents, and just outside their door, country roads stretch out like the world’s longest roller coaster. I get on my road bike and cruise their ups and downs across shade-dappled surfaces. I pass through sweet-smelling honeysuckle patches. A snake slithers in the ditch.

In Louisville, I learned how to ride a bike. I was 18, and I didn’t know that bike tires had tubes (or that those tubes needed to be filled with air). I had never heard of clipless pedals. And I didn’t know how to stand up in the saddle to climb a hill. I just knew that I had this desire for speed, and once I got on a road bike, those other details didn’t matter.

Farmhouse

In the summer after I started riding, I crashed in my first bike race, I broke my first bone, and I had my first experience with roadrash—which is like a burn, a flaying of the flesh, but the result of body-surfing across asphalt. It was an ugly debut into a sport that somehow stuck.

Moooooooo!

Despite its painful beginnings, cycling remains (over a decade later) the source of much pleasure. I went on from Louisville to race in college and then move to Colorado Springs for better racing and training partners. I started track racing. I eventually quit. But I still ride, and I still maintain that cycling is the best way to get a feel for a place.

Bluegrass Roots

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One response to “Landscape: Country Roads

  1. Warning!!!
    Clipless pedals are very dangerous.
    I’ve been riding bicycles continuously since I was 5. Have even commuted to work year-round in suburb north of NYC, Had been using Shimno clipless pedals for about 10 years and had several occasions when I couldn’t release from the pedal and dumped over. The last time, at age 58, caused my right hip to fracture. I needed 2 surgeries and 6 months of rehab. After the accident I found out about two other cyclists who suffered hip fractures because they couldn’t release from their pedals.
    Needless to say I took them off my Trek and will never use them again.
    The Pain was not worth the gain.

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