What you need

On a recent run with some of the guys from the tri club, one of them asked me what my boys thought about their mom doing all this stuff. "They must think it's pretty cool, huh?"

As I told him, not so much. My impressions are that they're a) pretty bored of hearing about it, b) completely uninterested, and c) heartily unimpressed (my--to me--very exciting 7:55 mile was met with "You know what I ran in 6th grade? A 6 minute mile.")  Basically, my impression is that they don't think much about it unless they're being inconvenienced by it.

Later, though, I wondered if my take on their reaction was accurate.  After all, teenage boys aren't typically known for their effusiveness, and mine are certainly no exception.  Since D (my 18 year old) was home, I told him about the conversation and asked him what he thought.

"I don't know, I guess it's kind of cool that you're doing the different races and all.  I still think the bike thing's ridiculous..."

The bike thing?

"The way you think you need each different bike."

Ohhhh, the bike thing.

 My child has no understanding of why I might need more than one bike, especially when I have a perfectly good hybrid.

2010 Katy Trail bike ride
2010 Katy Trail ride

After all, he tells me, it's a hybrid...best of both worlds.

Not so much.  I love my bike, but while it's nice to ride around town or on trails like the Katy, it's hardly built for speed.  Nor is it built to take off road.

Exhibit A

No amount of station wagon--jeep--sports car comparisons can sway his disdain for my multi-bike quest.  I confess, he comes by this honestly.  I've been known to say things like, "Why do you need special dance shoes? Why can't you just wear your black dress shoes?" and "You want another t-shirt?"  (In my defense, I swear you could spend a month's pay on different t-shirts at that school.).  I am reaping what I've sown.

Joining D in his anti-multi position is my husband.  Jeff has a four-pronged opposition:

1) Cost
  • Not just cost of the bikes and gear, but also of medical care (see #4)
2) Garage space
  • Seriously, don't get me started on the space taken up by baseball cards, old magazines, tools that aren't used, and assorted stuff that we might need again someday
3) My fitness
  • "If you really wanted a good workout you'd get a cruddy bike and work that much harder."
4) My health and safety
  • Refer to exhibit A above
Happy dance
A year of saving, combined with my refusal to ask for anything but a mountain bike for Christmas, got me bike #2 from Jeff, most of my family, my mother-in-law, and me.  That still leaves the road bike and me scanning Craigslist and sticking a twenty into my bike fund whenever I can manage it.

On the other end of the spectrum is the most recent issue of Bicycling magazine and its 2011 Buyer's Guide.


Articles like the one above are part of the reason I'm not renewing my subscription to Bicycling.  All those pictures of expensive bikes just make me feel bad.  I need Bicycling Magazine for the Profoundly Middle Class.  If you publish such a magazine, send me a subscription card.  I'm your poster girl.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against spending a lot of money on a bike.  If I had it to spend, I certainly would.  But to suggest that you need a $1,500 road bike if you want to ride a century, to me that's kind of silly.  I've done two centuries on my station wagon bike, and while a) they were painfully slow; and b) every other person told me "You need a road bike", I did them rather than waiting at home waiting until I could afford a better suited bike.  I tell people I can be slow on a slow bike, or I can be slow on a fast bike. :)

That said, I've kind of mentally coasted on some nice things that other people have said about my riding.  It's fed this little fantasy that I could be a decent rider...if I had a bike that was right for it (and, OK, if I could lose about 90% of my fear).  I'd like to do a triathlon, if I had a road bike. (OK, well, I'd pretty much decided that I'd do that without a road bike, too.  I'd be last place on the swim and the run, too, so why not complete the trifecta of mediocrity?) I'd think about riding in the crit, if I had a road bike.  It's both the thorn in my side and my security blanket.

Enter a couple of friends who've offered to let me borrow road bikes for the events.  Way to strip away my excuses. So now it's decision time: pony up and see what I'm made of...or rest in "I could, if..."  That's really not much of a choice.



  1. Sounds like you need a road bike to me! Seriously.

    I am lusting for a hybrid. I only have a mountain bike at this point. Biking certainly makes those running shoes look cheap.

  2. I have 4 bikes that I actively use: a titanium road bike, a carbon tri bike, a mountain bike, and a steel road bike I use for foul weather days.

    I saw a really cool road bike (Specialized Roubaix) at the bike shop a few weeks ago. I told my wife about it. Her response was that I should not be going to the bike shop as I'll only get in trouble.

  3. I could never do a tri and that is only because of the biking thing. I hate biking, I suck at it. Swimming and running, now that I love. Do they have biatholons?

    My kids don't really care for my running. My wife doesn't mind it too, but she hates how long I am gone during the really long training runs. I don't think she'll mind as much when the kids are older.

  4. Use the bike discussion as an oppurtunity for a math lesson. What is the correct number of bikes? N+1 of course :-).

  5. I agree about Bicycling magazine. It is just a catalog for expensive bikes with a couple of articles sprinkled in their for good measure.

  6. Hmmm, i don't know much about bikes. I know I spent way too much on mine and now it just sits in the garage collecting dust. One of these days I really should dust it off and ride baby ride!

  7. But look at the smile on your face in exhibit A minus 1. Clearly the enjoyment is priceless. Think how much your world was opened up by the addition of a mountain bike to your stable. Once your road bike arrives, you will have that much more to enjoy. Then we can start talking about your cyclocross bike. In the mean time you can borrow my bike any time. Since we have another 2 months of winter ahead, (1 inch of sleet and counting) I won't be using it for a while.

  8. Luckily my son is only 10 now and still thinks I’m superman to complete any race in any time. About bikes…I just skip the whole biking thing for now.

  9. Luckily I have no kids or a husband... I have one bike, a roadie, but really need an around the town hybrid, so I say the more bikes the merrier! That would be easier if they were free...

  10. I'm glad I "only" need new shoes every other month. I don't think I would be able to get legislation past the "budget council" for a couple, three bikes. somehow th ewife still manages to go shoe for shoe with me though...

  11. I did my first half iron on a mountain bike and I thought for sure when I got my road bike things would be so much better. Well, the riding was a bit easier for sure, but the reality was I did not get "that" much faster. boohoo.
    I bought the road bike used for $800 and my husband thought I was crazy! I think the only way I'll ever replace this one is if I get a new husband...and that's probably not going to happen ;-)

  12. I'm just about to google "hands" and see what i get. :) Someday your boys will look back and realize just what a cool mom they have if they don't realize it already!

  13. Ugg, I can't STAND how I feel like I need multiple bikes. I really blame the bike mags too. Makes me what to buy them all!


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