Thursday’s usually the day I post the winner to the weekly Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Giveaway. You may have noticed, though, that yesterday I did not post anything at all.
That’s because I was staring at all the entries, wringing my hands, biting my fingernails, and in general failing to make a choice.
There are just too many stories I like too much. Evidently, a lot of us have done some pretty dang cool stuff on our bikes.
Help Me. I’m Begging You.
I did manage to winnow the list down to a group of finalists (although even that was not easy), which I’m publishing below. Please vote for the one you like best: either with a comment, or (if it’s inconvenient for you to leave a comment) with an e-mail (I will occasionally group and post the e-mail entries myself). You don’t have to give a reason why you voted for a particular person, but why don’t you anyway?
Upping the Ante
Originally, this contest was going to be for a seat bag, but the fact is, these are some of the very best entries I’ve ever seen for the weekly contest, so I’m upgrading the prize to a messenger bag / pannier set / gear bag. Winner’s choice.
I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s post.
And hey, there’s no shame in voting for yourself. Well, not much shame, anyway.
And now, on with the stories.
Kelly (Mocha Momma)
Who doesn’t love a “Triumphant Underdog” story? And Kelly’s is a good one, with victory to the just and pain and humiliation to the villains.
There’s an epic hill in every cycling story of mine, and this one from my childhood is no different. It took me exactly one month to attack the hill and go down it on my bike, but I had just gotten braces and my mother was worried I’d take a softball to the mouth or get my mouth stuck to the climbing rope in P.E. class and she became overprotective.
All the boys in the neighborhood taunted us little girls and dared us to speed down The Hill. Since I felt the need to tempt death and my mother in the same task, I waited till everybody had cleared out and went down The Hill. No problem.
The next day, when all the guys were there taunting and teasing and generally being He-Man of the Hill, I dared a guy to race down the hill. WHAT? Not only was I going to go down The Hill, I was gonna go fast. He snorted and decided to take me on. I beat him and when we got to the bottom he was really pissed and being laughed at by the other guys. He proceeded to punch me in the arm really hard. Instead of waiting for any of the other biking boys to protect me, I then kicked his ass.
Yeah, this was my proudest moment. I did it all while still attached to the bike. My teeth are perfect to this day.
Last year, I did the MS 150 for the first time, and with the very generous help of folks who read this blog, raised around $1600.00. I was very proud of that. So I can sorta-kinda imagine why Big Guy is proud of raising $12,000 for an incredibly worthy cause.
I rode for Team-in-Training (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) fundraising events not once but three times (so far). I’ve personally been able to raise around $12,000 to date just by riding my bike (and, of course, asking folks to sponsor me for doing it). $12,000. It’s sometimes hard to get my mind around that number (=~$40/mile) just for doing something I enjoy (except the asking folks for money part).
Moishe’s story is just a great romp, and is really well told. If you’ve ever dropped your friends on a tough climb, you’ll be able to relate.
When I lived down in Olympia, my friend Scott and I rode our butts off down in Capitol Forest. We rode all the time; we planned our class schedules around getting out to ride during the week, we rode every weekend, and so on. Since it was Olympia, we rode through lots of mud and water and other bicycle-destroying crud. We decided, in the interest of saving money on parts and time on maintenance, to join the burgeoning singlespeed scene, and both built ourselves up some pretty sweet singlespeeds. We tooled around town on them, took them on some easier rides through the Forest, then, one February weekend, rolled out on their maiden "big" voyage: a 25-mile loop, whose appetizer was a 7-mile climb.
So we rolled out, this chilly and (of course) rainy March morning, in full singlespeed glory. We were riding with a couple of other friends of ours, who weren’t riding as much as we were, and we rolled ahead of them on the beginning of the climb. As we left them further and further behind, and ascended through the mist and mud and standing water, our pride at our single-speed badassedness grew. We muscled up short little ascents, kept our momentum along the steady grades; in short, we both felt fan-freakin’-tastic.
After roughly an hour of climbing, we reached the sign at the trail intersection at the top of the climb, got off our bikes, and leaned them (o glorious singlespeeds! let all the world revel in the simplicity of your drivetrains!) on the sign. We sauntered over to a convenient log where we sat down, unwrapped our clif bars, and waited for our riding compatriots to come and praise us.
So allow me to digress, briefly, and tell you about the trail we were about to go down: it’s rocky, rooty, steep, and (yes) muddy. It’s slippery and treacherous. Not the sort of thing you need a downhill bike for, by any means, but a tricky trail on the way down and a genuine pain in the ass on the way up.
Scott and I are sitting down, chillin’ out, and we hear a couple of guys riding up said nasty trail. "Cool," we thought, "people to brag to about our singlespeeds!" (well, Scott probably didn’t think that, and I certainly wouldn’t admit it in any context other than the relative anonymity of the internet) Sure enough, two guys rolled up, we got to talking, and they did admire our singlespeed bicycles and our prowess at muscling them up the hill. And around this time our riding buddies showed up (who I should mention were, to add sting to the you-must-think-by-now-inevitable putting-in-place that’s about to happen, attractive young women) and also exclaimed at our brilliance and we basked in the glow of our fantastic hill climbing ability with — yes — ONE gear!
So we’re all sittin’ around, talkin’ bikes, and one of the two guys says, "gee, I wonder where Brett is, he shouldn’t be too far behind." And but a few seconds later there came the sound of breathing and gear shifting and up comes Brett, cleaning a nasty little technical move, indeed cleaning an entire climb that I’d never succesfully ridden on any bike, rolling up like it ain’t no thing. And Brett – yep, Brett Wolfe – has only one goddamned LEG. He rolled up the trail, did a trackstand (well, maybe I’m making that part up), said hi, and kept going, like some ego-destroying ghost.
I’m still proud of my ride that day. But I’m truly thankful that it had such an inspiring coda.
Matt is doing a great job of passing his love of biking on to the next generation. His story reminds me I need to take my kids out biking more often.
There are quite a few moments that stand out but I guess right now this one is the biggest:
Last spring, perhaps April or May, I decided to go for a bike ride one Saturday morning. Decided to take my boys with me (they were 3 and 1). So I hooked up the bike trailer, threw in some drinks, blankets and a couple of rugrats. Hitched it up and pulled away.
The plan: To go for a bike ride and enjoy some time together.
What happened? A lot more.
I remember the ride was pretty uneventful as we ventured down the side streets of our neighborhood making our way to our normal trail entrance for the city wide trail system. The trails kind of run along the Cedar River here.
We stopped at the park so we could play. I mostly rested and then we saddled up again and ventued further. We came across the lake downtown with all the ducks and geese that live there. We rested there and feed bread to the animals for a long time. Finally saddled back up and ventured on.
We stopped at a donut shop and had a little snack. Well, I had two snacks. Ventured on further down the trail system until we eventually came across another park. Stopped for more play time. By now we were going on about an hour and half away from home and probably only 12 miles or so of actually movement. (Hey, we move slow) We eventually came to the end of the trail system, turned around and started for home. (The first time I had actually gotten to this end of the trail) This time we didn’t stop at all. All said, we spent about 3 hours together riding the trials, covered about 25 miles, had 4 donuts, handled out about a loaf of bread to birds, played on two different playsets and by the time I got home I had two sleeping rugrats.
I’d say it was a good day. I had a good nap that day too.
I was really proud of spending that time together, showing them a very interesting world along the river, pulling that much weight behind my bike, and knowing enough not to hurry what we were doing.
StormcrowePrime isn’t actually in the running for the bag, since he’s already got the Banjo Brothers to set him up with gear. But his story’s still worth hearing.
My greatest cycling moment happened last summer. It was my first ride in recent history where I made any miles at all.
Those of you that have followed my blog know that in March last year, I was in a wheelchair due to a heart problem and morbid obesity brought on by a pituitary disorder as well as being on oxygen. This ride was out to a park called Fairfield Lakes County park. This was a 7.2 mile ride and at the time, I was having to take frequent breaks, but I did make it out there. Believe me, riding with a 15 pound oxygen tank strapped on your back ain’t easy.
I know that a bit over 7 miles doesn’t really sound like much, but at that time it felt to me like I had just aced Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France! I’ve learned to appreciate every ride I make, good, bad or indifferent!
Anyone who has ever planned on quitting a race, but kept going because you didn’t want to disappoint a loved one will understand why Bikepbp’s entry is a finalist.
I entered Paris-Brest-Paris in ‘03 after training from January of that year til August. (PBP is an ultramarathon ((1200 km)) road ride held once every 4 years and is older than the Tour.) I thought I was in good shape having trained between 4 and 5 thousand miles in preparation but I’d never done a ride like this straight through with little sleep.
At the end of one of the four qualifying rides I found a small stuffed dog that I brought home for my young daughter. She gave it back to me before I left for France for good luck–good thing she did. I zip-tied it on the back of my saddlebag and started the ride with some friends from NYC.
On Thursday night, sometime after midnight, so I guess it was really Friday morning, I couldn’t go on because of back pain and sleep deprivation (1.5 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday night). I told my friends to go on without me or they wouldn’t make the cut off time of 90 hours for the 750 miles. I just laid down on the side of the road and tried to rest my back and sleep.
As I was laying under my space blanket, I saw the stuffed dog on my bike and thought about how disappointed my daughter would be if I didn’t finish this thing so I got back on the bike and rode to the next check point. They told me I was just within the time limit so I took a short nap and rode on.
I was so inspired that at the finish I had caught up to my friends and we all finished about the same time well within the time limit and I was able to call my daughter back in the states and tell her that I finished–in French; which was our code for telling her that I finished under the time limit.
I’ll never forget that ride or the dog or the inspiration the dog (from my daughter) gave me.
Nathan’s sneaky. He entered two of his favorites. The thing is, they’re both great favorites. A five day self-supported bike outing as an early teen. Your first big paceline ride. Who wouldn’t keep those as favorite memories?
1. First completely independent bike trip – my brother and I (11 & 13) left on a Wednesday with nothing but tarps, sleeping bags, some changes of underwear (this was pre biking shorts for us) and $50 bucks apiece. We were gone for four nights and 5 days riding around the San Juan islands, humping it up Mt. Constitution, sleeping in farmers fields and generally having a complete blast (’80s reference since that was the era). We called from about 20 miles out on Sunday and my dad drove back up our route home to take some pictures. He caught a shot of us that to this day is about the happiest I have ever seen myself on a bike.
2. Fast forward 5 years. Now I’m 18 and starting to race seriously. So as training I entered the Seattle to Portland, opting for the double century since I couldn’t get off work for two days. I will never forget sliding into my first real paceline (more then 5 people). The absolute rush of watching the lead person swing off and drop back and then me being the very tip of this 50 person snake of energy. I try to keep it smooth, marvel that maintaining 27 mph for 5 seconds is easy, drift over to the leeward side, wait for (interminably) that tap on the rear that signals the second to last rider then slide in and hunker down in the biggest draft of my life. I remember that day because riding was still effortless and new and I did 200 miles at a crack in under 10 hours.
My Sister Kellene
I’ve told my sister Kellene’s amazing crash story before, but it’s her story to tell, and she’s justly proud of the fact that even after that she still rides.
So…I am sure I could win the bag if I tell my story of my most memorable day on the bike! Actually the most memorable for my husband since he had to do the rescuing .I am not proud of my ridiculous fall, but very proud of my super hero husband that came to the rescue of his broken wife!
I took the most amazing fall! Fell 20+ feet right on my face on a pile of boulders. No rolling, just straight free fall! Many injuries to sport around and be proud of:
broken jaw, 14 broken teeth, broken wrist and arm, sheered off kneecap, stitches in arm, chin, and lip and beautiful black eyes..
After lots of dental work, braces, new teeth, and plastic surgery I am better than ever! You can check out my $30,000 smile on Rocky’s blog!!!
I guess the proud part for me is that I still ride! Thanks to my Rockheaded husband! He got me back on the bike while I still had a cast on! Just around the neighborhood. Then for my first ride he patiently went with me to the place of impact and coached me through it.
I love riding, and hate being a "girl" on the bike. For that I am proud!
Dug has done what I could never do.
Once I sat through the entire 6 hour BBC version of pride and prejudice. I didn’t ask my wife to pause it when I had to pee, but I think it still counts.
DPCowboy describes what most of us can only wonder about: what would it be like to ride with the big boys?
I had an experience back in 1978 that I will never (ever) forget. It was the highlight of an incongruous number of years when I thought I was a good roadie (but wasn’t) and was struggling (although I didn’t know it at the time) to find a niche in cycling that worked for my particular set of skills.
I was racing in the Tour of Bisbee, a short stage race in Southeastern Arizona that had a kind of "down home" feel to it with a lot of civic involvement. It was a team stage race primarily, and a lot of the then current hot roadies were there (Boyer, Howard, Cook, etc.). It was the first or second stage, a 100 mi. (or so) road race where I found myself in the front of the group, knowing that two teammates ( and three or four others) had slipped away at the start of the race, and were smokin’ it 7 or 8 minutes clear of the field.
The hotshots didn’t know, and the surprise they showed when they got a "time check" (you know, that little guy on the motorcycle with the chalkboard?) about 70 miles into the race, and, well, it was an interesting reaction.
This was the first, real experience I have had with the "hammer going down", and it went down hard, believe me. I sat on, for dear life, for about 20 miles, as the field dwindled to just a few, and the last climb (a long one…six or seven miles) started. I have never been so absolutely shelled and wasted, but I hung on as long as I could, and Cook, Boyer and Howard, especially, rolled up that climb so fast, it was mindboggling….like 53 x17 fast.
I couldn’t help wondering, and have been thinking about it ever since…what if I could have stayed on? Logically, there was no way…the nuclear blast that shattered me was irrevocable. They (I think just Bob Cook (RIP) and John Howard) eventually caught the break, and Cook won the stage, but my teammate beat Howard in a two up sprint for second. I crawled in and died a thousand agonizing deaths, and started the very next day, and most days after that, with new expectations.