Today was my first road ride of 2016. A week of warmer than usual temperatures in Central Oregon melted the ice off the roads and the sun beckoned me to lube the chair and re-inflate the tires on Training Weight so he was road ready. Training Weight; yup, that’s the name of my road bike and it is a name of endearment. Even though this bike has a drive train squeak that no amount of grease can quiet and tips the scales at about the same spot as my 5” travel mountain bike, the second I hit the pavement aboard this machine I feel like I am flying.
Training Weight is the first road bike I owned. I got this bike to rehab a torn meniscus in my knee from a skiing incident more than ten years ago. Pedaling sped up my recovery and let me explore the gritty and far reaching corners of the city I was living in while not dwelling on missing ski season in the Rockies. Aboard Training Weight my injury depression was manageable and ultimately liberating. Riding to rehab was enjoyable but I wanted to ride for a purpose, so I signed up for a century ride. This was the first time in my athletic life that I trained for an endurance sport. No, I did not become an ultra-athlete, but a season of endurance base building paid off the next year. Training Weight helped me turn a bummer of a situation into an opportunity. No matter how many fancy bikes fill my bike stable, Training Weight always inspires a nod of gratitude.
There are a lot of advantages to Training Weight. When a mid-ride espresso is in order, I am not concerned about someone stealing him. And if they do I will know the thief was desperate for transportation and I hope the burglar logs many miles. When I show up for the local Tuesday night club ride (“hammer-fest”), no one expects me to hang onto the peloton let alone take a turn at the front. It is nice to earn a little respect when I do. But the biggest advantage to Training Weight is exactly this bikes namesake; riding a somewhat outdated bike puts cycling in perspective for me: shaving a gram or two mostly affects your bank account, good bike handling skills are just that – good bike handling skills (assuming it is maintained and safe), and my ability to get the training benefit from a training ride is pined to my attitude and approach, not a flashy paint job. (Don’t get me wrong, my race bike is crazy light and quite the head turner.) And I have to laugh because just twenty years ago Training Weight would have been a marvel of a machine!
A ride on Training Weight tunes me into the road beneath my wheels like none of my other bikes do; every pebble, seam and pot hole jar through my body asking me to be dynamic in the saddle. Gear selection must be anticipated as a shift under torque usually pops the chain off the ring. I have to support my upper body with my core or my hands will go numb at the two hour mark. The extra friction in the drive train helps me up my power at a higher cadence. Miles on Training Weight make me stronger. Hours on Training Weight make me an alert and engaged cyclist. Training Weight reminds me that I bike because I love to bike, and that is the motive for the adventure. So shed excuses; your gear is fine. Dust off that old gear in your garage and give it a spin.