To Bicycle or Not to Bicycle

The past month, I've been flirting with cycling. Not a full immersion into cycling culture, more like just a toe in the water. I have been enjoying spinning on the indoor bikes at the Y. I've taken my mountain bike and a friend's road bike out for a few miles. I bought padded shorts. I read lots of things on cycling forums I don't understand about Shimano gear packages (Tiagra is better than Sora, but 105 is the best--I think) and derailleurs, whatever they are. I've been maintaining mileage in the 25-30 miles per week range, but most of that has been cycling, not running.

I wish cycling were as simple as running. Got shoes? GO! But buying a road bike also means buying clip-in pedals, clip in shoes, a bike computer, an under-the-seat pack, a tire repair kit, a pump, gloves, MORE padded shorts, psychedelic jerseys, and probably even more. For an entry level bike of $599 to 699, you wind up spending closer to $1000. It's INSANE. I had no idea. And honestly, those smug little cyclists with their tight little shorts and color-coordinating jerseys with brand names splashed all over them riding their $5000 bikes in their $200 shoes make me a little sick. And they won't wave or say "Good morning." What's up with that? I guess they are too fancy to say hello to a lowly runner. But I digress....

I have test driven more bikes in the past week than I test drove before my last car purchase. I found a close out '09 model at an ok price ($650), but I just can't seem to pull the trigger. I thought about going with cage pedals and just my regular shoes, but all the stores said you've got to have clip in pedals. I thought my current helmet would be ok, but at the speeds at which I will be riding these road bikes, I apparently need to upgrade to a safer (read more expensive) helmet, too. Riding them on roads with cars was a bit terrifying. I would definitely need a small mirror so I could see cars about to mow me down.

My mountain bike is a piece of junk. I've had it for 13 years, and I bought it used out of the paper, so who knows how old it is. I see how awful it rides after riding better bikes. But last night, I had an idea. I hopped on my husband's Trek mountain bike (a very respectable brand) and it rode 10 times better than mine. I took it out on a paved, but rough trail (bumpy wooden bridge crossings, broken pavement in places) and had a ball! That trail might be a bit rough for those skinny little road bike tires. The mountain bike felt sturdy and fun, though not fast. Maybe I don't need a new bike at all.... I can just steal my husband's! On the other hand, I would not be able to keep up with my friends on their road bikes on a mountain bike....

Right now, while I'm injured, cycling is very appealing. I ran 2 miles today, then mountain biked 5. The bike portion was way more fun, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to immerse myself in a new hobby.

It's new and shiny and exciting now, but will I REALLY ride on the road? With actual cars? Running is one thing, but riding with traffic is much scarier. If the shiny does, indeed, wear off, I'll be left with a $1000 mistake. (I work approximately 4-5 hours a week at the YMCA, and that means about $200 per month in take-home pay. It would take 5 months of my salary to pay for a bike!)

I rested my calf most of the week. The two miles today didn't hurt. I'm starting back at square one with a few 2-mile runs. In a week or so, I'll try 3. And so on. AGAIN. It's nice to be excited about something again (and I don't mean running). Maybe that alone is worth the money.

Comments

judy said…
Ohhh I so feel your confusion. I think the bright and shiny may have to win. You probably will use the bike even after your injury is healed because it is a great way to cross train (and perhaps keep you injury free?)good luck with your desicion and please keep us informed.
Val said…
I hope you love whatever you do. Your running stories inspire me. Continued healing to you!