by Sarah Rice and Eric Landahl
My first time….
Riding a good bike. June 12, 1982, my 9th birthday. My parents got me a gorgeous blue 5-speed Schwinn. I hit the brakes too hard going down a hill, endo’ed, and crashed head first into a parked car. The bike was so messed up that the handlebars touching the seat. My right leg had a 250-stitch gash, and I still have an awesome permanent scar instead of a Cat5 tattoo.
Visiting Chicago. May 25, 1986- “Hands across America”. Heading back to Wisconsin on the Kennedy, I stared longingly at the skyscrapers from the car sick seats in the back of my family’s Pontiac Grand Safari. My parents asked how I liked Chicago and I replied, “I will come here as soon as I can and stay for the rest of my life”.
Athletic Training. Summer, 1987. I read the legend of Milo of Kroton, who trained by carrying a bull calf each day until it became fully grown. Thinking that was B.S., I trained until I could do 18 underwater pullouts in the lake without surfacing. The neighbor kid recruited me to the high school swim team.
Romantically kissing. November, 1991. My dorm room next door neighbor and I were talking and hugging in his room. Then we kissed. It was both of our first serious romantic kiss. Can you imagine trying something for the first time and liking it so much that you had no desire to ever try anything else? That’s what happened. We dated 5 years and then got married.
Getting an important result. December 1998. Nariman and I were doing a late night experiment that gave us exactly the wrong answer. I erased the “expected results” from the chalkboard and drew up the real results. Then I realized that our experiment had told us how the cell’s transporters walk. The walking mechanism was simple and obvious, and everyone was going for it but no one had thought of it. We hugged each other, jumping up and down and yelling. That experiment led me all the way to Northwestern.
Running a marathon. Chicago 2004. I got hooked and ran 5 marathons before my first serious injury, a torn hamstring. Unable to run and a little burned out, I started triathlons in 2008. I didn’t miss running because riding my bike (something I hadn’t done much before) was really, really fun.
Racing a criterium. In May 2010 I bought the Cervelo R3 now known as Charlie. Ken Mitchell fit me on the bike and told me about the ABD practice crits in West Chicago. First time winning an omnium: June 12, 2010. First time starting in an NRC stage race: June 12, 2013. My 40th birthday.
Laughing beverage up my nose during a race. Lincoln Park, 2013. Spidermonkey teammates were drinking and cheering us on. They were so raucous and funny that I lost it after hearing, “Get off the course you bag o’ dicks!” I can’t wait to return that favor at Montrose in December.
Life has a lot of “firsts” by the time you’re 40. The important ones hit like lightning and stay with you forever. Cycling was an instant obsession for me, and thanks to the camaraderie and support of my Spidermonkey Cycling teammates, it’s gonna stay.
My first time…
I’m usually not very good at things the first time. The first time I went out for an athletic team I got cut (from a swim team at age 7). The first time I took algebra I flunked it. And the first time I introduced myself to the gorgeous redhead in the college dorm (the one with the incredible leg muscles!) she told me to go away and slammed her door in my face.
Luckily I’m really stubborn. I still swim competitively, and I managed to learn algebra eventually–although I did end up staying in school until I was nearly 30 years old. The redhead is still around as well.
I don’t recall riding a bike for the first time; it was pretty much how I always got around the southside neighborhood where I grew up. After driving a half-million miles as a Silicon Valley engineer and a government scientist I got rid of my car a few years ago. Life as a University Physics professor encourages several eccentric behaviors: in my case this includes Divvying around Lincoln Park wearing a coffee-stained corduroy jacket carrying an obscure textbook under one arm with the bits & pieces of some demonstration lashed to the front basket with bungee cords.
Remarkably, my first time riding with Spidermonkey Cycling was a success. My friend Grace introduced me to Dean at a Universal Sole run. I had been itching to try something new after a hard triathlon season, so I came out the next Saturday. I really enjoyed the challenge and camaraderie of the team’s group ride. The only thing missing was the redhead; my stubbornness won out and she joined up a few months later.
My first time riding a new Surly Pugsley fat bike was two days ago. I had been on the bike for less than five minutes before I endo’d and ruined the fork and disk brake. Not many people can destroy a 35 lb bike and walk away from it! I took this as a good omen. As soon as I got home I immediately signed up for a winter bike race across northern Wisconsin…