Rites of Passage: an Inventory

Rites of Passage: an Inventory

We were all there once, the newbie, perhaps even the Fred, wearing tube socks and cutoffs and swearing we’d never buy one of those silly beer cooler hats. Somewhere in there, we all became lifers, more dedicated to the pursuit than a hobby, but perhaps less so than our families. Everyone’s list is a bit different, but like any romance, certain themes remain consistent.

  • The first flat
  • The first (successfully) replaced tube
  • The first bike shorts
  • The first jersey
  • The first clipless pedal fall
  • The first flying beer can/bottle
  • The first mid-ride bee sting
  • The first bonk
  • The first bibs
  • The first leg shave
  • The first group ride
  • The first paceline
  • The first stolen bike
  • The first 50
  • The first 100
  • The first time not getting dropped
  • The first bike vacation
  • The first tights and jacket
  • The first night ride
  • The first crash
  • The first cycling trip to France/Italy
  • The first hors categorie climb
  • The first collar bone
  • The first organized century
  • The first race
  • The first bump that doesn’t result in a crash
  • The first concussion
  • The first podium
  • The first win
  • The first shower beer
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  1. Mark

    Thirty years in, still haven’t reached the first podium, win, shower beer, or cycling trip to France/Italy. On the other hand, I also still haven’t gotten to the first flying beer can or bottle, nor the first stolen bike. I’ll take that trade-off.

    I might have to do something about that shower beer, though.

  2. Les.B.

    The following I did on my Schwinn when I was a kid in the fifties:
    • The first flat
    • The first (successfully) replaced tube
    • The first group ride
    • The first stolen bike
    • The first crash

  3. Alan

    Does beating 2 other kids, who were riding BMX bikes, while on a real 10 speed, count as a win? Or being the only one to ride a rental bike in a race and “win” that category? Because I’m not able to do any better.

    Also France/Italy cycling trip? Need someone to carry bags or help you on such extravagance?

  4. tmana

    Flats and tubes, like others have said, are childhood (or at best, college) things. But back then (70s and 80s) it was the first rebuilt wheel, the first time replacing or upgrading derailleurs or brakes, wrapping handlebars, etc. OTOH, I did my first half century on my fiftieth birthday (in 2010), supporting a cause dear to me, and in the process, found my “cycling identity”. I am a Red Rider, one of many who live with diabetes and who support the mission of the American Diabetes Association.

  5. Rudy

    Love it, Patrick! I remember my first race, a criterium on Memorial Day in Moline, IL (a 3+ hour car ride from Chicago). I was 18 at the time and my dad (who was a huge supporter of all my sporting adventures) made the drive out there with me (it was the first bike race for either of us – never even having seen one as a spectator). I remember asking the race official where the changing room was for the race (He looked at me like I was from outer space). Anyway, I got dropped and lapped at around lap 5. My Dad didn’t say anything to me on the car ride home for about the first hour and then in classic form, while driving and still staring straight ahead, let out the statement, “I should have brought a box of tacks.” Hilarious! We laughed most of the way home. He’s gone now but thanks for sparking that memory…it puts me in a happy place.

  6. Ron

    I like this. A lot!

    First shorts: purchased at a thrift store while visiting a friend. Years later, I now find myself living a few miles from where the thrift store used to be. (I’m from many states away, happened to go on a blind date, arranged by this friend, to this friend’s wedding. Kinda crazy.)

    First clipless fall: I think the day I bought my first Sidis and LOOK pedals. Thankfully onto the grass between the road/sidewalk.

    First stolen bike: I actually caught the guy riding it two days later. No joke. A threat with a u-lock got him off of it.

    Awesome new first: first time I put my one-year old son in his bike trailer and rode him around: last week!

  7. Ron

    Oh. First race. Chris Thater Memorial Criterium. I’m from that area. I was in toe clips in aforementioned thrift store bike shorts. Toe clips. (this was the early 2000s). I started out trying to pass people in corners until, thankfully, someone told me to cut that s*it out. Thank you to that man!

    1. Author

      I’d almost forgotten about my first toe-strap fall. Almost. I think my elbow still hurts from that.

  8. sbarner

    I’ve got pretty much all of them covered, but never shaved my legs, Only lost one bike (chased down the kids who stole it, but there were many more of them. I got pounded, saving my buddy’s bike–he wasn’t as motivated about getting mine back.) Haven’t been to France yet, but hope to, someday; have snapped some ribs, but never a collarbone; have a couple of trophies, but they were earned long ago, before the silliness of podiums and shower beers.

  9. Jeremy Stewart

    Always remember first clipless fall… felt like such a tool! First commute to work where I felt my heart would never slow down (1 hour after ride!), but ALWAYS remember the feeling of first shower beer after first marathon XC race here in New Zealand, just bliss 🙂

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