home » biking
RidelogButn (3K)


If I remember correctly, I was in first grade when Mom and Dad bought me my Schwinn spyder bike with the burnt orange metallic paint job, white metallic banana seat, and three-speed with the shift lever on the crossbar. I wasn't supposed to ride it, as I recall, until after I'd received the report card that would provide proof of the good grades that were the condition of my receiving the bike.

Of course, I couldn't resist the lure of that sexy beast, just sitting there in the garage, its fat racing slick rear tire just begging to take a bite out of the neighborhood streets. I sneaked out with the bike to show it off to my buddies, who wasted no time pressuring me into riding it down a dirt hill. Not used to front brakes, I promptly went arse over elbows, and worse... bent the shifter lever, breaking the click stops that separated the gears.

I guess Dad understood, because I don't recall catching too much hell as he took me down to the Schwinn shop to buy a replacement shift lever. I rode that bike everywhere, well into high school, by which time it was far too small for me, and every rotation of the worn-out crank bearings threatened to cause me to "pop a wheelie".


Mike's second bike, Spring 2003
'03 Marin Redwoods comfort bike

But like those crank bearings, what goes around comes around. More than twenty years since that orange beauty went out to pasture—pasture being Jeff Bidwell, as I recall—I bought myself a new bike. When Cheryl started talking about getting back into her racing wheelchair and training for a marathon, she encouraged me to look for a bike to ride around the streets and sidewalks to keep her company. It didn't have to be anything too radical, just something that would ride well on pavement while handling uneven sidewalks and patches of gravel.

When one of the local bike/camping/canoeing shops had a tent sale, Cheryl dragged me there to take a look. We ended up picking out a Marin comfort bike with decent Shimano components and a front shock to help soak up the bumps. I have some back and neck problems, and the more "relaxed", upright postioning of the comfort bike geometry seemed like just the thing. After all, I'm too old to be jumping off ramps and racing around on dirthills, right?


Between the insane heat and the vast assortment of sinus-clogging allergens that are part of summers in North Texas, Cheryl didn't get outside to do much training and I didn't go out to do much biking on my own. Sometime during the summer, though, I discovered the Dallas Off-Road Biking Association (DORBA) and the member forums at their web site. There, I read about the various trails in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and the DORBA folks seemed to be having so much fun riding them that I started thinking about giving it a shot myself.

I took my comfort bike out on what was suggested to me as a beginners' trail and nearly killed myself on roots and steep climbs, so I decided to take part in one of DORBA's free beginner clinics. It was fun and informative, but I managed to damage my chain and bend a tooth on one of my chain rings.

Mike's current bike, Autumn 2003
'03 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR

Once bitten by the all-terrain bug, I realised that I was not going to be able to do the things I was becoming interested in doing without destroying the Marin, so I started shopping for a true mountain bike. This time, I had a better idea about what I was looking for, both in terms of the bike itself (tough, front and rear suspension to save my poor old back) and the bike shop (friendly staff, mechanics who are available during daylight hours) with whom I'd be establishing a relationship.

I shopped around for a few weeks, asked lots of questions, took some test rides, and finally decided that the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR was the ride for me. I was impressed with a number of the bike shops I visited while shopping around, but Bicycles Plus was the closest that carried Specialized—and they were closing out their 2003 bikes at a discount that put the Stumpjumper just a little above the upper price limit I'd set for myself.

Training Ride Log

Let's be honest: no one really cares how far I ride or where, but it was a nifty excuse to play around with some data-driven web coding. If you're curious, the log I started after buying the road bike is here.

Diary of a Novice Biker (most recent first)