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

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x