Cycling, has become a big part of the Keefer household over the past couple of years. Sure, I had a single speed BMX-style bike as a kid. You know the kind – the type in vibrant colors, no shifters or brakes on the handlebars. Braking was accomplished by braking backwards.
I had a bike in college as well, that I used to go to and from class on occasion, and became crucial to bike to and from campus to an internship off campus.
But the real cycling passion for me is a recent, and post-college thing. After Amanda moved in, we both got bikes at the local sporting goods chain – both of the mountain bike type. I started biking a ton on the local American Tobacco Trail (both the paved and the unpaved sections), putting in miles, and working on speeding up and thinning down. My bike was a bit beefy though, with its dual suspension and large rolling resistance of the thick and nubby tires.
I started doing local charity rides – routes of 24, 50 and 62 miles, but found I was working a lot harder than the other riders – even on the flats. At one point, I was able to upgrade to clipless pedals, making the entire pedal stroke useful, spinning on the bike.
Even so, on a very hilly and hot 100K on the 4th of July, I cramped up and had to stop for awhile after a climb to drink and recover. I soon got a nice deal on an old 80′s frame road bike, with its shifters on the down tube (modern road bikes all have their shifters integrated into the brake hoods, or at least on the handlebars). It was amazing the difference in weight and speed the road bike frame offered.
A few months after the acquisition of that first road bike, a friend in Washington D.C., who races bikes competitively sold me his 2003 Specialized Allez Comp for a good deal. From there, I started doing more and more rides, and eventually got into racing.
I got setup with a team in Chapel Hill, North Carolina – the Tri-Cyclists. They’re a developmental club consisting of a triathletes and bike racers, and are a great, strong and positive group of cyclists. After riding with them on group and training rides, I started racing mainly in North Carolina criteriums as a Cat5 road racer. I’m particularly close with the group of us that travel and race together – a core of 5 or 6 guys.
Fast forward to 2009, and I’ve recently upgraded both my bike (2009 Specialized Tarmac Expert) and my category (Cat4). The upgrade in hardware has been amazing and I’m so thankful to be riding and racing such a nice piece of equipment. Cat4 has been more of a struggle, though I’m sure that will come with time, training and some further leaning out.
I also now bike commute to work often, though it’s too far to go door to door. Instead, I drive part way, and bike the rest. Cycling has become an almost daily part of my life as a means of fitness, competition and transportation.
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