When I started riding again I was in grade 13 1968.I bought what was at that time a pretty nice bike, a Sears 10 speed which cost me 65 dollars. At first the riding was just a practical way to get around town but then I realized how much fun it was to travel around by bike.
Fast forward 4 years and it is 1972. I had taken up rowing as my main competitive sport and on Dominion Day, that’s July first for you non traditionalists, My crew and I went to the regatta in Toronto. I rode my bike over to the apartment where 2 of the other guys stayed and the coach came over there and picked us all up in a university van and we were off for the day.
After a successful day of racing the coach returned us to the apartment where I found my bike had been stolen. The fact that it was my only mode of transport at the time was a major bummer. As an unemployed university student money was pretty scarce but I went to a local shop and bought a used old CCM single speed which I used for the rest of the summer. Back then the rowing season pretty much ended in the beginning of August and I was lucky enough to get a job on one of the lakers for the rest of the summer before returning to school.
For about a month I had my room and board covered on the boat and made what in those days was pretty good money. When I got off the boat I went back to the same bike store and traded in the old CCM for a brand spanking new Nishiki 10 speed. A beautiful blue bike lighter and faster than the sears bike had been and just a dream for riding around the city and surrounding area.
The very first weekend i had the bike I decided to take a ride along old highway 8 from St Catharines to Hamilton. I had ridden that route before and it is quite a nice road. Back in 72 the ride was probably about 80% through farm lands with the occasional small town along the way. I was in great physical shape from the years rowing training so I knew the distance wouldn’t be a problem and faced with a beautiful September Saturday I took off without a care in the world for a nice shakedown ride on the new bike.
I usually make it a point to ride upwind when I first leave home on pleasure rides like this, that way you have a tail wind near the end of the ride in case you’re getting tired. On that day though there was a bit of an east wind blowing that meant that I would ride downwind first and then return into a headwind. It wasn’t much wind though no more than 5 miles an hour so off I went.
I made the ride into Hamilton in a couple of hours and then stopped for a gourmet picnic lunch from KFC. After sitting in Gage park downing the lunch I got back up on the bike and started retracing my route to go home.
Now anyone who has done a lot of riding can tell you that when you first start riding each year you find your butt gets quite sore. After a few rides it toughens up as you get used to the saddle again and many who ride year round really never have that problem at all. Unless they change seats. Every bike seat is just a bit different and whole your butt gets used to it the seat gets broken in a bit too. Now I had just finished a long summer of rowing and riding but when i sat back on the seat of my shiny new bike I realized I had made a mistake. This was a new seat and my ass was sore in a couple of spots where this seat was rubbing slightly different than the one I had just been using all summer. And I was 30 miles from home. And the wind had picked up to maybe 10 miles an hour, still not gale force but enough to slow a cyclist significantly.
The ride home took more like 3 hours than 2. A considerable part of it was spent standing and or squirming on the seat trying to find a comfortable spot or at least getting the tender spots off the pressure. I don’t remember the ride back being nearly as much fun as the trip out had been. When I finally made it home I had actually rubbed a couple of spots so badly I was bleeding. The remembrance of that ride was with me for a couple of weeks as I healed over. It seamed that the world then was full of hard nasty places for me to sit. On the bike, in desks at the school, even in the rowing shell as we started up fall practice for the university rowing season.
From then on anytime I got a new bike or even replaced a seat you can be sure the first month or so was spent on short local rides till things in the nether regions worked themselves out to a mutual understanding of where and when epic rides could be taken with comfort and joy.