I grew up riding my bicycles on the flat open plains of a Dallas suburb named Plano. I remember my first bicycle was an old 70’s schwinn 10 speed that was way too big for me. It was a hand-me down from one of my brothers. I remember wrenching on the bike, pretending like I knew what I was doing. I spent probably thirty dollars on reflective tape from k-mart to wrap the entire frame. For a day or two it was the coolest bike on the street. I quickly learned that surfaces MUST be clean before applying adhesive style products. In the early to late 90’s I started riding like it was my religion. I was joining every group I could find from mountain, road, and even to BMX. I stopped riding with the groups because I was clocking around five to six hundred miles a week and it was eating me out of house and home. I started riding with a couple co-workers and one in particular helped bring back that childlike joy of riding, which helped me turn it back into a fun recreation with friends and not an exhausting chore with yell leaders (Ricardo, love you brother from another mother). I look forward to being able to ride with him again soon…given that he’s a mere three hours away now that we’ve relocated to Portland.
In the meantime, I’ve found another recreational group to ride with here in the gorgeous scenery of north Oregon. A few weeks ago I went on a ride with a few of them to a town named “Boring”. It was a very interesting ride because of the odd micro-climates we went through. One minute it was a gorgeous sunny day and the next I was freezing my butt off with a rain coat providing my only protection. This was probably my third ride since arriving a little over six weeks ago but that didn’t stop a woman from barking at me “share the trail”. Note to self: People around here like a little more space between your bike and themselves. I wasn’t that close…but I get it…sorry lady.
However, this past weekend I went on another ride with the same group to a town named “Buxton” (or thereabouts) and I found that same childlike exuberance again! Upon arriving I rode down to the trailhead to find a familiar face (and fellow Texas transplant) waiting with a group I had not met just yet. He introduced me to a few of the riders and I instantly had a good feeling about this group. Everyone on the ride Saturday was super nice and had the “no man left behind” attitude, which is very important. A lot of the groups I had ridden with before had no problem dropping you if you didn’t keep up and that used to really upset me. This group was different, it was clear from the get-go that they were looking out for you as evidence by one of the riders having a flat at the start. Everyone pitched in with a variety of tools, supplies(since her bike was a little older), and skills to get her back in the saddle. As we rode the slightly inclined trail we all were chatting with each other. Another fellow transplant from Austin, Texas and I had a great conversation about life, work, and the state we escaped. We were laughing and sharing stories about the superior quality of life I was just beginning to appreciate up here. It was as if I was making up for lost time with old friends. Everyone was extremely kind and welcoming without judgement, another concept foreign to me having lived in Dallas almost my whole life.
Some of you who read this blog may not know what “clipless” pedals are on a bicycle. Clipless pedals enable you to cycle more efficiently by having cleats on the bottom of your shoes that snap in to the pedal like a ski binding. This bond between shoe and pedal enables you to make a more even stroke by not only keeping your foot connected to the bike, but also “pull” the pedal on the upstroke creating a more even circle of pressure while pedaling. When you step on to the pedal they make a “snap” or “click” noise signifying that you are locked in and ready to ride. So among riders it’s called either “clicking in” or “clipping in”(for us older riders). When I hear that sound I’m like a dog when it hears the leash come off the wall. I’m ready for the adventure ahead hanging my head in the wind, my figurative tongue flapping in the wind taking in all the surrounding scenery, smells, and sounds.
After the ride we all went to a local joint for lunch and drinks. We sat outside in the gorgeous 70 degree sunny weather sharing more stories while I was trying not to put off any of my new friends with my lack of Oregon knowledge. One of the women in the pack even complimented my beard which, as you probably know, was not received all that well in Texas. She also agreed to a picture for my beard’s facebook page which was newly formed so that I could show all my family and friends that I’m okay being myself out here. So once we finished lunch I said “okay, you agreed to a picture time to make good”. I held up the phone, turned on the “selfie-mode”…and CLICK!
Feel free to like my beard’s page, it will appreciate it.