After not having ridden a bike in many many years, I decided to buy a bike I saw on an infomercial. I was in the process of moving to Austin and decided that what I needed was a bike. So, I purchased one of the more infamous bikes ever, the autobike.
The premise behind the Autobike was a comfort bike with an automatic transmission. It had weights in the rear wheel that as momentum built up, the weights would go outwards and would shift the gear. Neat idea in theory, horrible in practice. It did have the habit of basically disconnecting the gears when you would go really really fast. Normally, this is not a problem on a comfort bike.
As I mentioned, I lived in Austin and Austin has hills. Going uphill, the gears were sluggish and violent. Going downhill, they were creamy and very nice. But, I found out that if I’m going downhill and try to pass a city bus, the centripital force of the Autobike’s gears basically causes the gears to derp and I lose all locomotion. Losing the ability to generate power while passing a bus going downhill is a really really bad idea.
So, from there, I decided to get a really nice bike. My next bike was a 2002 Gary Fischer Urban Utopia. On my test ride, the guy said to watch out for the brakes since they were very good. I remembered this as I went over the handlebars when I slammed on the brakes. Still bought the bike and to the day I sold it I was always impressed by how amazing the brakes were.
The Gary Fisher was a new one for me. It was the lightest and most high tech bike I’d ever seen. 20 spoke Bontrager wheels and one of the single most amazing lightweight frames I’d ever seen. It was a cycling dream. It also cost about as much as my car at the time.
At this time, I lived in the Galleria area of Houston. It was an urbane locale full of yuppies with money and not paying attention to the road. This was also the time in the early 2000’s where everyone discovered cell phones, text messaging, and WAP browsers. (For the younger and less technically adept in the crowd, a WAP browser was a thing that wasn’t racist. Here’s an article) So, it was the perfect storm of shitty motorists.
Pleasure and Stamina…
The Gary Fischer was a true pleasure to ride. I loved that bike. Creamy and smooth it could go forever. I found myself riding for 6 or 8 hours at a time. I had motivation. I’d met the most amazingly smart, funny, and hot women ever. So, I bought a very high end home gym and road my bike at all times. I was hooked. Riding on that bike was not only exercise but it was pure joy.
The joy I felt riding that bike can’t be compared. I was in mad love with the gorgeous woman I’d eventually marry but that bike was even better. I was actually in incredible shape. I lifted heavy weight, I rode long distances, and played rugby. Damn, I really did look good.
I was pretty regularly riding 100 miles and decided to go for the MS 150. About a week after starting to seriously train I took a vicious fall. It was bad enough I cracked my helmet and was bruised over what felt like 1/2 my body. I was probably pretty seriously injured but being the combination of young, in shape, and macho I never went to the doctor.
I did however quit riding. I took a break from riding for about 10 plus years. I got badly hurt and got very spooked. I also had a ridiculous job that I was workaholic at and an amazing women I’d rather go home to than ride.