It all started back in April of 2002. I was driving along in my junk heap of a car and the radio squawked out an ad about the Northeast AIDS Ride. It was to be a bicycle ride from Bear Mountain NY to Boston, over four days.
Now I was both excited and nervous for this challenge.
Now that I had been chosen, I actually had to put my money where my mouth was. When I was in college I used to torture my body and challenge it to do things that it might not be able to do. But it had been a few years since then and I have been an occasional mountain, climbing desk jockey since.
I looked it over to see what I would need to do with it to make it road worthy. Besides shaving about 15 pounds of weight off of it (which was unfortunately impossible) I replaced the nobbly off-road tires with some nice smooth slicks and got a tune up. Then as per the urging of my tri-athlete friend I got clipless pedals. For those who don't know, clipless pedals are like a ski binding for you bike. They bind your shoes to the pedals. This increases pedaling efficiency and power by allowing you to use the muscles on both side of your legs as well as use the power of your legs in a full motion throughout the pedal stroke.
It was time to go test the roads.
There is a park not to far from where I live. It has a bike path that goes from Merrick to Jones Beach along the Wantagh Parkway. I drove my car with my bike inside to the park. (Yes, I chauffeured my bike.) It was mid-March and fairly cold. I was dressed in about 6 sweat shirts, a turtle neck, some old soccer shorts and some white long johns. Under my helmet I wore a thick wool winter hat and on my hands I wore brown jersey gloves. It must have been hilarious for any real biker to have seen what I looked like. Little did I know but, I was severely lacking in gear. But that all comes later.... So, I pulled my Trek 6000 out of my car and put the front wheel back on. I threw my leg over and rolled out. It was about 30 degrees and its always windy on this particular route. The Cedar Creek trail is about 4.5 miles one way. So, I decided that I was going to do a few runs back and forth and see how I felt. After the third run which came out to about 27 miles, I fell to the ground by my car and collapsed in a heap. I asked myself what the hell I had gotten myself into. The ride I was training for was 350 miles and that day's ride wasn't even a tenth of it.