My love for biking began at a very young age, as many life-long hobbies usually begin. Living on a main highway with no sidewalk just outside of Jamestown, NY, I was limited in the distance at which I was permitted to stray so I came to regularly reside at my best friend Dan’s house, borrowing his bike and hitting the streets (streets = sidewalk).
Our route of choice: Around the block.
As a 7-year-old in the year 1995, I wasn’t exactly tracking my rides just yet but this is what it would have looked like, had I mapped it on MapMyRide.
When we were old enough to venture farther, Dan and I were always looking for the next challenge; our lives predominantly (and still today) were marked by notable rides (or crashes) rather than other, more “typical,” momentous occasions in young men’s lives.
Our trips began to stretch from our hometown of Falconer to Jamestown, NY, and it was around that time (roughly the year 2000) that we began to challenge ourselves not only with distance but with climb. Hough Hill was the steepest climb in our vicinity and so of course we had to conquer it.
Here’s what one of those rides looked like. Notice the 14% grade climb on the hill marked in purple.
At this point, I was still borrowing a bike from Dan for our rides, so with my new incoming lawn mowing allowance, every cent I earned one faithful summer went straight to purchasing an $86 bicycle from a superstore–the most expensive that I could afford. Never one to casually use something I’d purchased with my hard earned money, I would take this bike up and down the neighboring hill near my house almost every day.
A few years later, I would break up with biking.
I am unsure why my hobby fell by the wayside but perhaps it had something to do with school, extracurricular activities, etc. requiring more and more of my time. Good thing for me, biking was the nagging girlfriend that convinced me to give her a second chance, so during my second year at community college, I spent over $500 on a new bike.
This carefully researched hybrid would get me through the next 8 years, starting that very summer riding every day, 4 or 5 days a week, 10 miles to work and back again.
This was the beginning of long distance riding. Twenty miles a day sandwiched between 10-12 hours of food prep at a restaurant. Biking home at midnight every day. Too many miles to count.