I want to ride my bicycle

My lovely wife Carolyn gave me a bicycle for Christmas, a fancy machine powered only by me, a middle-aged couch potato.
Though it has 21 gears, none of them seem to pull me to the top of hills as well as our old SUV. The thing takes work, and there is one particular hill (on Coronado Drive) which is particularly impossible to climb comfortably.
But I’m sticking with it, having ridden my new bicycle to work each morning this week. People tell me it will get easier as I continue, but easy hasn’t kicked in yet.
One of the problems has to do with terrain; my house sits about 200 feet higher in elevation than our print shop, meaning the trip to work is basically downhill, and the trip home is basically uphill. So the trip I take after resting all night is quite easy and the trip home, after working all day, is more difficult. Did I mention I’m in my 40s?
The other day, after what felt like a long day, I began the trip home. On the long stretch of Lois Street behind Wal-Mart, I passed a lone jogger, a young person. In truth, it had taken a long time to even catch up with the jogger, but with a slight downhill stretch I pulled pretty far ahead.
Then came the hill at Coronado, the one I dread the whole trip, whose height is compounded by the fact that most of the altitude I gain by climbing that hill is soon lost as I turn on West Lane, only to have to climb it all again on my street to get home. So I’m climbing this hill in what must be the lowest gear ever invented when (you guessed it) the young jogger passes me up, not even working hard.
Some things really make you feel old, and being passed up by a jogger that day made me feel ancient.
Still, the rides have been fantastic.
Thursday morning (while many of you slept) I pedaled east toward a sliver of moon. Crossing the Water Street bridge between Gibson’s and Mosty’s Garage I looked down to see a doe staring back at me. I’ve noticed the bike is so quiet I often surprise wildlife: I’m there before they notice I’m anywhere near. Thursday evening I pedaled west toward a sky on fire – clouds red and majestic, highlighted by the setting sun.
I pretend I’m riding the bike to improve my health, but mostly I’m riding the bike because it’s fun. Also, I can’t help but think, with every turn of the pedals, that I’m sending fewer dollars off to the foreign oil-producing parts of the world. But I don’t ride for the politics of it. I ride because it’s fun.
The machine, which Ms.Carolyn bought at the Hill Country Bicycle Works, is the nicest bicycle I’ve ever ridden, and it has some features designed for the comfort of the (middle-aged) rider: big fat tires which, along with shocks built into the frame, help make the ride smoother. The seat is nice and cushioned (a real help), and the bike is designed to ride sitting up, not hunched over like a racing bike. It’s a sweet ride.
Check with me in a few weeks – I’ll be happy to let you know if the ride gets any easier.