Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Heart Biking

Yup! Believe it or not, I was a biker WAY before I was a runner…

My love affair with biking started 40 years ago when my family moved from a very bike-unfriendly Lawrence, MA and settled in suburban Salem, NH. Back then, I would take my Huffy 3-speed up the street to my friend’s house, or through the woods to an adjoining neighborhood. I beat the crap out of that thing. Doing jumps on built-up plywood ramps and throwing it up (and down) the bulkhead stairs of my cellar.

Later, after earning enough money from delivering Lawrence Eagle-Tribune newspapers, I bought a Schwinn 10-speed at Victor Hugo.  That baby was my pride and joy! I took it everywhere. On the aforementioned paper route (except on Sundays, oof!), on fishing trips with the pole positioned like a jousters lance, and on sleepovers with one hand gripping the handle bar and the other wrapped around my sleeping bag.

Having a bike meant having freedom. And the older I got, the further that freedom carried me.  From the next neighborhood, to the convenience store down the street, to my school a couple miles away, to baseball practice downtown, and eventually to friend’s houses all the way on the other side of Salem. I knew (and traveled) every square inch of sidewalk and blacktop that my town had to offer. And all without a helmet, I might add!

Not surprisingly, my bike time diminished greatly when I turned 16 and got my driver’s license. At the time, biking for me was not about recreation, but rather a means to an end. A way to get from Point A to Point B.  And, when I was given the choice between biking and driving, I chose driving every time. Naturally! And, as a result, my trusty 10-speed was left in the dust of my childhood. And that’s where it stayed, for almost 20 years.

All that changed 10 years ago, when a good friend of mine introduced me to the joys of mountain biking. I picked up a used Trek 4300 at Goodales and hit the trails. And, as it turns out, biking in the woods was an absolute blast! Weaving in and out of trees, bunny hopping logs and jumping rocks. It was just like being a free-wheeling, 10-year old kid again. Riding my Huffy through the neighborhood and going off plywood ramps.

Eventually, as my never-ending need for speed increased, I picked up a low-end Trek 2.1 road bike. And then, my bike time really took off! Due to a series of running related injuries, and the need to implement some fun (and reasonably low-impact) cross training, my yearly bike mileage has increased significantly. Last year, I did my first “century” ride (100 miles) and this year (with ultra training as the primary focus) that upward trend is likely to continue.

One of the last rides I did on my old Schwinn was a 15 mile trip from Salem to Nashua, to watch a High School football game at Holman Stadium. At the time, 15 miles seemed like FOREVER! And my friends thought I was nuts to even attempt it. The hour and a half that it took for me to make the trip down Route 111 was both exhilarating and terrifying. And, I’ll never forget it!

Last weekend (and nearly 30 years later), I recreated that trip. Except this time, I started from my current home in Nashua and visited my childhood home in Salem. I traveled around to all the places I used to bike to as a kid. Naturally, some of them were gone. But, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that others hadn’t changed a bit. And, 40 miles (and at least as many memories) later I realized that my love of biking hadn’t either.

Here are some of the pictures that I took that day. Enjoy!
   Hey! Eyes front!

The Rock! Rockingham Park Race Track - worked and bet there. but not at the same time. mostly.
Boys & Girls Club - looks a lot nicer now
Armando's - formerly Gateside - voted best frappes ...by me
Dunk's - formerly Granite State Potato Chip - the best little potato chip factory in the world
St. Joseph's Regional School - my middle school - so many nightmares ...
Canobie Lake Park - lots of fun times ...
9 Smith Street - my old (and small) house
Canobie Lake - canoed (and swam, oops) there
Frog Pond - where I learned to skate
Kelly Library - a place of dewey decimal headaches
Mary A. Fisk - my elementary school
My old fishing hole
Cycle's ETC, - formerly Canobie Supermarket - where I used to buy candy and baseball cards
Hadley's Beach - where I learned to swim

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing all the things we toted in our hands while we rode our bikes all around town in the old days. I carried my trumpet to lessons, baseball gloves and bats to games, balanced piles of library books over a mile to the library, and anything that I wanted to bring anywhere around town in the days before backpacks (and helmets). Like you I like to ride around my hometown of Falmouth seeing all the old sites, but I also get to ride the old road race courses too: Falmouth Road Race, Cape Cod Marathon and others that I used to race.