A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked if I would want to go on a bike ride sometime with her. I was excited about the opportunity because I don't actually have many friends who ride. She shared that she often gets left behind when her husband wants to go, and just wanted to have a fun ride. She's fairly new to cycling (she's had a bike for a couple of decades, but hasn't really been on her bike until this summer), but I have to admit I was thrilled to have an opportunity to ride with someone. When I hadn't heard from her by the end of the following week, I decided to send a message asking if she still wanted to get together for a ride. She responded by stating that she was ready for the following day, and because we are both involved in kickboxing we decided to meet up after class and go for our joy ride.
As we were leaving class she said, "You know, I'm kind of intimidated to ride with you." I laughed (Mostly because I was thinking, "Who in the world would be intimidated to ride with me, the snail of the cycling world?"), but she continued on. "I was telling my husband that you just rode a century and he said, 'She's not going to want to ride with you!'" I assured her that I was in no hurry to get anywhere and that I actually enjoy a nice, leisurely ride around town - it just rarely seems to happen when I'm training for a specific goal. She had a couple of questions about her bike and shoes, so we chatted as we started to ride.
The pace was leisurely and enjoyable as we headed out on a multi-use trail. We spoke about cycling, spouses, art (she happens to be a great local artist), and kickboxing. It was a short, but lovely ride.
As I dropped my friend at her home and rode on alone, I reflected on what cycling has become for me, and the reality that the cycling world has forever changed because of a cruiser bicycle given as a gift just a few years ago - well, about 4 years ago, to be more exact. I am amazed at the transformation that has taken place and I sometimes wonder who I have become. Four years ago, I wouldn't have touched anything that wasn't an extremely upright bicycle. Three years ago I couldn't dream of owning a bike made of anything other than steel. Two years ago I wouldn't have thought I'd be using drop bars on a regular basis, and a year ago I wouldn't have believed I'd ever be riding a century, let alone two within a matter of weeks of each other.
I have wondered in the past if it's possible to go back and have the same feelings I once had about a particular bicycle... even going so far as to re-purchase a bike I once loved (I've done this twice, actually - because I'm apparently not bright enough to figure it out at the first time). It only ended in disappointment because I found the bike no longer met my needs in my shifting style-of-cycling world. I don't believe that one world is better than the other, but more that things have just changed and adjusted. Some would say I've "evolved" into a "real" cyclist, but I think I was always a cyclist who just preferred one style of riding over another. There have been changes, certainly, and I'm sure they will continue as life moves forward, but I definitely don't feel more evolved than I did at the start of my cycling journey.
For now, I'm enjoying the opportunity to engage in what to some may seem like opposite types of riding, knowing that through all of the changes, ultimately I remain the same person. I'd still rather just cruise around town at slow speeds, checking out the world going by, running errands, and enjoying the seasons, but perhaps now I'm just a bit more game for a long road ride, or a quicker self-race to see what I can accomplish. Whether a slow or fast ride, on a cruiser or a lightweight road bike, I'm happy to have gone through the journey I've experienced and wouldn't change it for anything.