A couple of months back, in the height of our gloriously mild winter, I cleaned and polished my bikes to a gleaming luster, oiled the chains, greased the nice leather saddles. Put them carefully back on the lanai behind the La-Z-Boy and headed out to play bridge. Bike cleaning takes so much out of you.
Before I retired to Florida, I averaged about 5000 miles a year cycling. As such an experienced cyclist, I am rather demanding, as you might imagine. I have expectations of bicycling that Florida has a tough time meeting. There aren't any damn hills here, for one thing, hills like the ones I used to devour in Connecticut. Nothing here gets even remotely vertical. And what's the point of riding on endlessly flat terrain? Not enough of a workout to bother with, really.
But I do subscribe to Bicycling magazine, which I read while sitting in my La-Z-Boy in front of my two gleaming bikes. The third bike, by the way, is a beach cruiser, a relaxed rider that I bought especially for riding on the packed sand along the miles of beautiful beach that we have here. I keep it in the shed, where I have to climb over it to get to my gardening tools. That's why I never use gardening tools. In fact, I dropped my subscription to Modern Gardening magazine. The bike in the shed makes gardening ridiculously difficult.
I paid $40 a few months back for a three-month membership in the municipal athletic facility, which has a nice selection of bike machines. Trouble is, they are not like the real thing - no wind in your face, and the artificial "hills" you can program in are not at all convincing. Waste of money if you ask me.
I once rode a bicycle from Manchester, Connecticut to Bar Harbor, Maine. Yessir, fully loaded for camping and cooking along the road. The stories I could tell you about that week in the saddle; it was the adventure of a lifetime. I would definitely do that again if I still lived in Connecticut. When it comes to bicycling, you can't beat Connecticut.
Recently I decided that I should ride again, even if the roads are too flat. I bought nice new pedals for my favorite bike and installed a new bike computer so I can track all my miles on my laptop while sitting in my La-Z-Boy. I get tremendous inspiration from the statistics of exercise; it's the engineer in me, I suppose. The software was much harder to install than I expected. Stupid programmers! How am I supposed to ride if my bike computer doesn't read accurately?
My favorite bike is a custom touring job that set me back more than any new car I owned before the age of 40. If you look at my new picture at the top of this blog, you can just make out the seat post of that bike sticking up over my right ear. (The picture was taken sitting in my La-Z-Boy.) That bike has a Shimano Deore XT drivetrain and Chris King hubs and bearings, which make the bike ride like a dream. I get tremendous satisfaction owning a fine piece of equipment like that. It's best use is fully loaded touring, like that ride to Bar Harbor. That was a ride, all right. Hard to do that here in Florida. Bar Harbor being so far away, I mean.
Anyway, I'm thinking of buying new tires to replace the ones that have gotten ratty after sitting for the past two years. I would not want to go out on a long ride only to blow a tire 30 miles out. Modern technology is great for tire shopping. I can sit here in my La-Z-Boy, scanning the tire ads in my magazine and order them on line without getting out of my chair.
For shorter rides, I have a great carbon fiber bike that is super fast on flat roads and even up hills if we had any. Trouble is there's really no place to ride here in Tampa Bay because of the traffic. The traffic is so bad they put in a long bike trail that goes from Tarpon Springs down to the waterfront in St. Pete, about 40 miles. That would be great except it's too flat and kind of boring, since it goes mostly in a straight line (it used to be a rail line). Not much to look at except the scenery, which is barely above average.
I have Google Earth on my laptop. Maybe I'll lay out a route for next weekend. Except it's getting kind of hot in Florida for riding.