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Bryan’s Story: #myrideto Confidence

March 6, 2014

With the launch of our new Get Started bike and accessory packages, we wanted to tell the story of how some riders got started on their cycling journey. After talking with a number of folks we found three really great people with really great stories about their rides to becoming cyclists. If you know someone on the fence about giving cycling a try, share one of these stories with them. Below you’ll see Bryan’s and his “ride to confidence.” We want to hear your story too. Take to social media and use the hashtag #myrideto and tag us telling us your story. We’ll share our favorite pictures and posts with our followers to help get more people on bikes.

Bryan’s Ride to Confidence

My best friend/roommate got a bike for Christmas. Watching him put it together reminded me of how much I loved riding my bike when I was younger and how I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could ride around the neighborhood with my friends. It had been so long since I had been on a bike and I had gained so much weight since then that I didn’t really think that getting a bike was an option for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted to get a bike so off to the store I went.

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I stopped at several places not really seeing anything that I liked, let alone anyone who would help me. Then I remembered seeing a small bike shop that was not too far from home so I figured I’d check it out. Walking into Bicycle Sport Shop was overwhelming at first because there was so much to look at. I was greeted almost instantly by Laura.  She asked me what kind of bike I was looking for and I told her that I didn’t really know. I hadn’t been a bike for at least 10 years at that point and I was just wanting something to ride in the neighborhood a few times a week. She pointed me to the hybrids where one bike in particular caught my eye: the Trek 7.2 FX. I began to ask her about it and before I knew it I was test riding one in the parking lot. I could tell that I was out of shape and would need to get used to riding again but I knew that I had to have that bike!

I bought it and got on it as soon as I got home and began riding around the neighborhood behind my apartment. I did one lap around the block and was almost instantly exhausted but I was also exhilarated. I loved my new bike and wanted to keep riding! I started riding 2 to 5 miles about 3 days a week and began adding more miles as the months passed by. In March of 2013, I signed up for the Real Ale Ride. By April, I was riding 25-30 miles twice a week and so I decided to do the 50-mile route which made me both very excited and very nervous. A 50-mile route within six months of getting my first bike in over ten years.  The ride was the toughest challenge I had encountered at that point, but it was also incredibly rewarding. I was exhausted and more motivated that ever at the end of that ride! I had set out to ride further than I ever had in a single ride and accomplished it. What else should I push to achieve? A century?

By the end of May, I was riding my hybrid amongst groups of road bikes and keeping pace for the most part, but I was starting to think that it was time to upgrade. I wanted to ride more! I wanted to ride farther and faster than I ever had. I wanted to push myself past my limits and then push myself some more! In June I sold my Trek and bought a Specialized Allez Sport! That same day Laura (from Bicycle Sport Shop) and I went for a ride and she took me to Mount Bonnel. I pushed myself yet again past my limits and rode to the top of that hill feeling like nothing could hold me back. Almost seven months after buying a bike I had lost almost 40 pounds and had gained more confidence than I thought I could ever have. I was happier and healthier than I had been in years.

 Last October, I was given the chance to ride my first century, the Livestrong Challenge. That day at the starting line I was a mix of so many emotions. Could I really do it? Starting off I focused on just enjoying the ride and the miles seemed to go by fairly easy. At mile 60 I was still going strong and thought I would be able to make the finish line without much struggle. But at mile 75 I began to wear down. I was tired, but I knew that I couldn’t quit. I had come too far to stop and could not live with the idea of ‘almost’ making it. The group I had been riding most of the ride with was waiting for me at the last stop before the finish line. When we started off I realized that I was going to make it! A ride that was meant to be a simple challenge had suddenly become one of the most emotional experiences I had ever had.

Thankfully I was so sweaty at this point you couldn’t see the tears falling down my cheek. The group started to pace a little faster than I was going but I somehow kept up. We kept going faster and faster until I realized we were at a full sprint with less than a mile to go! I had to resist the urge to throw my hands up at the finish line. It wasn’t a race, and if it was I certainly didn’t come in first place. But I had accomplished my goal, which was more than enough of a reason to celebrate. In less than one year I had ridden a century! I logged almost 4,000 miles for 2013. This year I plan on riding at least 5000. Along the way I hope to see new riders pushing themselves the way I have. I hope to inspire them to push themselves past their limits. I hope to show them that they can do anything that they can set their mind to. But most importantly I just want to show them how much fun riding a bike can be!

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