That Summer I sorta became a cyclist

Tim Speciale - January 28, 2020

There is a serenity to Midwestern farm country that can only be experienced on a bike. This is a quick history of how I discovered it and became a little better along the way.


A brief history

Outdoor Recreation in Woodstock has been around as long as I remember. One summer when I was 13 or 14 I wandered in and gawked at bikes I thought I’d never be able to afford. I came across a composite mountain bike made by Trek. It was probably 1999. I had never seen such a thing.

The coolest bike I’d ever seen. Check out this entire catalog from 1999.

Later that day I went home and told my brother Ash that I would in fact buy that bike some day. His response was that I “would never need another bike” after I got a license. I told him he was wrong about that and I’ve been proving him wrong ever since.

The first bike

Throughout high school and in the year and half after, in which I was attending classes at a local community college, I worked at a small Italian restaurant. With a much freer schedule after high school, I began working 30-40 hours a week. I had some money in my pocket and decided it was time to finally buy a bike. I didn’t really know what I was looking for but had some enough research. It was a different time then; you could get a reasonably high-end configuration for pretty cheap. I ended up with a Trek 1500, it primarily had a 105 groupset on it but the rear derailleur was Ultegra. I got all this for the low price of $980.

2005 Trek 1500. Blue, red, so cool.
I’d like to think my bar/stem setup looked a little different…but it probably didn’t

Fat boy

In those year after high school I got pretty fat. I was working in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant. I had access to so much pizza and alfredo and no longer had the football season to slim down. I went from a fairly lean 175lb senior to a 195lb lardass in the span of 18 months or so.

March 2007

I eventually transferred to The University of Iowa. I brought my bike, of course, but i didn’t get any thinner. By the summer of 2006, I had had enough.

Not much else to do but learn how to be fit and learn how to make change

That summer I was living with my mom in Woodstock. I had a bike and very little else to do. I decided I should probably lose some weight. Every afternoon I rode 10-20 miles and ate nothing but salad.

The route took me past my old elementary and middle schools, down roads I knew about but never had a reason to travel on. I grew an appreciation for the stillness of the midwestern farmland that summer. The beauty of the rolling hills and winding roads. Every ride I nudged myself a bit further and a bit faster. The growth was tangible. I made to Thayer road, then to Hebron, then to the Wisconsin border.

Through all of this exploration, I accidentally got pretty thin. In the span of the three month summer break, I lost 30lbs. Never in my life had I seen so tangibly the positive output (getting some health back) from such a positive input (enjoyable bike rides throughout a summer). It may sound silly to most, but I’ve carried that lesson with me for the rest of my life and have applied it to everything.

June 2007

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