Don’t worry, it’s just like riding a bicycle
Photo credit: Gene Bisbee via flickr 
By Mike Schwagler, Cascade Ride Leader & Guest Contributor

OK, I’ll admit it! I’m totally addicted to riding.

But I wasn’t always a cycloholic. In fact, this crazy addiction is entirely my wife’s fault. I remind Diane of her complicity whenever I leave the house to ride for hours and miles on end…two or three days a week.

It’s an argument I also use whenever I return from the store with an armful of bicycle gear. Perhaps my wife is ignoring me (probably), but so far, my plea of innocence seems to work. 

Four years ago we downsized and moved to a Redmond city apartment which happens to be located precisely on the Sammamish River Trail.

“Let’s buy bikes,” she said, albeit much too cheerfully. “It’ll be fun to ride down to the wineries or go to the Red Hook Brewery for lunch.”

“No way,” I barked back. “We’ll ride them three times a year. It will be a total waste of money.” In a hopeless attempt to smooth over my harsh reply, I quickly added, “Maybe we could rent sometime.” I was OK with riding bikes once or twice, but was hoping the whole buying-thing would go away. 

And so we rented bikes a couple weeks later. Off we went. Death grip on the handlebars. I was barely managing to balance this thing and couldn’t keep it rolling in a straight line to save my life. Fortunately I was riding behind Diane so she couldn’t see me waggling and weaving down the trail. After twenty years of being fallow-in-the-saddle this was definitely not “just like riding a bicycle.” 

I didn’t fall off or crash, so that was good. Ok, so I did fall off, but that was two years later. We can save the road rash story for another day.

Thinking back to my motorcycle days and the undeniable advantage of eighty horsepower I recalled that once a bike (the powered kind) attains a certain speed, it balances itself. 

Throwing caution to the headwind — this was the Sammamish River Trail, after all — I tightened my sphincter and sped things up. 

Noting a sign on the trail that the speed limit was 15, I remember thinking there was no way I could ever go that fast. Pedestrians would always be safe with me on the trail. But propelling my hybrid beast somewhere above a cautious six mph should help, right? 

It did! The wobbling subsided and I started to have fun. We rode and rode and rode. And then we rode some more. I’ll bet we covered a whole four miles that day…maybe even five. It was terrific, but I was still wary about spending a bunch of money on something we would never need.

When we returned the bikes, Cindy, who worked at the bicycle store, gave us her sales pitch: “You know, if you wait a few weeks, the summer rental season will be over and these bikes will be offered for purchase at half price.” 

I caved-in to my better half (somewhat reluctantly), and we bought the bikes. Before you knew it, I was out there every day. When the weather changed to wet and cold I was still out there every day.

What was happening to me? I was addicted to this nutty behavior. Not quite full-spandex, but still…

And now, as I contemplate replacing my aluminum bike with a super–light carbon model (ridiculously expensive), to my wife’s objections I’ll simply say, “Diane, this is all your fault.”