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James has a new toy

 

Bike riding used to be one of my greatest thrills. My bike was my primary source of transportation, even though I had a good-running car.  I lived in Northwest Oregon, which has some of the best bike routes and bike trails. It was nothing for me to do a 100 mile round-trip from Astoria Oregon to Long Beach Washington, and back, on a mountain bike that was custom-built for me by a friend of mine, Matt Tilley, from Haurs Cyclery in Astoria, Oregon. That’s the bike on the left here.

I put thousands of miles on that bike, and it never once gave me a lick of trouble. Matt taught me how to maintain and tune my bike, and also helped me to become a competent rider.

The bike taught me a lot more. For one thing, I learned that once I got to where I could comfortably ride 20 miles, I suddenly wanted to shoot for 30 miles, and then 50 miles, and so on. I also discovered a love of hills.  Every time I “conquered” a hill, I’d set my sights on a bigger hill. Bike riding not only presented new challenges, it helped me clear my mind of cluttering thoughts and to focus on others, to experience the environment around me in ways that are just not possible in cars. Not to mention, it’s a great way to stay in shape!

Sadly, when I moved to Arkansas, I discovered that not all highways are equal.  Even though I lived in Fayetteville Arkansas, home to thousands of bike riding University of Arkansas students, decent bike routes and bike lanes were scarce. The drivers, although generally polite and courteous drivers, were not nearly as rider-aware as drivers in the Northwest. I often felt like I was taking my life in my hand just riding along the highways. I stopped riding like I used to and stuck to riding local hops here and there. Eventually, my bike spent more time on the rack than on the road, and I finally gave it to a local kid.

A few years past, and I had forgotten how much I loved riding.  I let an important part of my life fade into yesterday. I became lazy and gained weight. I lost part of my zest for life, and I stopped challenging myself. I feel foolish for allowing this to happen. But, I am happy to say, the spark has been rekindled. A few weekends ago, I was browsing through a pawn shop in Renton, when I saw this GT Agressor. It looked interesting, but the shop wanted $200.00 for it, which was out of my budget. I was on my way out of the store when an employee said she could make a deal on the bike. I bought it for $87 dollars. I took it home, cleaned it, tuned it, oiled it, and replaced the tires and brakes. It felt good to work on it, to listen to it as I ran through the gears. A finely tuned bike is near mechanical perfection.

As soon as I started riding it, I started remembering that I used to love this. Being as out of shape as I allowed myself to get, I soon recovered another memory of  sore butts and legs.  Now, my goal is to get back into shape. I’m starting out slow and easy until I start getting my legs back.  There are three lakes and numerous paved routes for me to work with. Ultimately, though, I want to get back to tackling hills and 100 mile trips, and I think I’ll throw in a few off-road trails here and there. After all, this is the Northwest, a cycling paradise!

 2010 GT Aggressor 7000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere, there is a friend that I have not heard from since I left Astoria Oregon in 1994, and that’s my friend Matt Tilley. Periodically, I have searched the web trying to find him, but I have not been successful. Where ever you are Matt, I hope you and your family are doing well. And thanks for everything!

Update:

June 22, 2012 — Since I started riding this bike, I’ve tried to do at least five miles a day during the work week, and at least 15 miles a day during the weekend. Hills have been a bit of a challenge, but my legs are coming back, and I am getting much stronger now. Currently, I can get from Renton Valley, up Old Sunset, and up NE 7th Street without stopping my bike even once. That’s a pretty good hill, especially the first block and a half of NE 7th Street.

Also, along with my bike riding, I have changed my diet a bit. I have all but removed all beef from my diet, and I am staying away from fast food. As a result, I have gone from 245 pounds to 225 pounds, and I feel really good. My goal is to get below 200 pounds. After that, I may set a new goal for 185 pounds.

July 9, 2012 – New pics! My daughter, Ashley, took these pictures for me.

Peace!

 

 

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