Sunday, 13 June 2010


Before I took up running the marathon I was an avid cyclist. Not a racer (although my road bike was pretty much a time trials machine); not a committed mountain biker (although I did dabble. Even had a single speed Bianchi Boss for a while!), not a die-hard commuter (although there was a period of that until I got tired of taking so long to get to work and back). No. I was in love with loaded touring.

I've ridden long distances in eastern Canada, England, New England and along California's coast. The first time I rode in England was in 2000, when I crossed the narrowest part of my homeland, west coast to east coast, from Whitehaven to Newcastle, by myself in four and a half days. Glorious. Really.

I came home and immediately began planning a month-long ride from Land's End, in the south-west corner, to John O'Groats, in the far reaches of the north-east. I set off for that ride, fully aware of the fact that my carpal tunnel syndrome could stick a pipe through my spokes. It did.

Five days in, both hands siezed up. I had no feeling in either hand. My thumb muscles wouldn't respond when I asked them to shift gears. I dumped out, crushed.

It was not long after that that I got the running bug. It was easier to travel to take part in marathons than it was to travel with my bike. So, for about eight years, the touring machine I designed and built myself has been sitting in my bedroom, feeling unloved.

Yep! I figured out the frame geometry myself, picked the frame materials (Columbus ATB steel tube set, Paragon bottom-bracket shell, and beautifully machined Henry James lugs). I drew the plans, cut the tubes, silver braised everything together, hand sanded in prep for painting, and sent it off to get painted. I wanted green, but it got blue, at first. It's British racing green now. It was everything I always wanted in a bike (and still is). It's just that I got caught up in the running thing.

The jury is still out on whether or not cross-training helps a distance runner. If I understand him correctly, I believe my running guru, Jeff Galloway, doesn't think much of it. So, while I was training for my 30 marathons in the last nine years, I ignored my bike. Until very recently.

Losing my twelve year job in the bike industry kind of put me off all-things bike at first. It also took the wind out of my sails in terms of committing to running any marathons for a while. Registration and travel, just too dear. So, depression began to settle in a couple of weeks ago. Even though I fully intend to run the San Francisco Marathon for the fourth time next month, I am, shall we say, a bit undertrained. But my head just has not been able to wrap itself around getting out there for all the long, slow runs I need. However, in the last few weeks, me and the touring bike have been spending some long-overdue time together.

I did this ride a few weeks ago...

...and this one today...

I think we're good friends again.

Meanwhile, I still love to run. I need to do 15 tomorrow, if not a couple more.

Gotta run!


TokyoRacer said...

Well, if you run a lot of miles I don't think cross training helps so much. If you don't run so much (this means you, Michael), I'm sure it helps quite a bit.
By the way, I have to say this new font is rather hard to read.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the bike's getting some love again, and I hope the both of you have many long and lovely rides together this summer.

TokyoRacer said...

Thanks! This font is much better.
Hope your 15 went well.

Michael B said...

bob...thanks for the tip...i would say something about the age of your eyes...but i won't!!! was going to do the called into work. might not get it in til friday now.