College – new ‘hobbies’
In the fall of 1986, I took up residence in Daniel’s Hall at the University of Cincinnati. Me and 3 friends, all from Beavercreek, all on the cross-country team. We had arranged it that way, as UC lets students select their roommates if they have a preference. 3 of the 4 of us had bikes in the room, talk about cramped!
It didn’t take long to discover new ways to make use of leisure time. It doesn’t take a genious to figure out I’m talking about BEER! In fact, my roommate Bill and I nearly got thrown out of the dorms our very first night because our entire floor had crowded into one lounge wing for a huge game of Thumper. Apparently we were so loud the RA heard us from the 1st floor (we were on the 9th floor – I can only assume open windows had something to do with it). Police were called, we were all chastised at length, and the guys who bought all the beer were put on double-secret-probation.
Needless to say, partying became a way of life, and as former HS athletes, we quickly learned that drinking was not only fun, it made extremely good sport!
Bikes and the City
Bike riding didn’t completely disappear once I got to college though. One of my roommates, Jeff, was into riding, although not quite as much as I was. I did go with him to pick out his road bike back in high school. My friends considered me somewhat of an expert. Hardly, but I knew more than they did, so I guess that qualifies. We began to go on ride excursions and explore the city, trying to find safe and fun routes, usually that involved hitting the more painful climbs into and out of Clifton, such as Straight St. and our favorite, Ravine St. I had a Ford Escort that could only go up Straight St. in 2nd gear. It was the steeper of the two, but Ravine St. was more fun because it had the plateaus at the cross streets. Good for attacks.
Our favorite routes usually involved riding to the various parks around the city where we would stop and play double-frisbee (throw two at the same time and make a sorry attempt to catch both before they hit the ground). Or just look for hot girls. The best park trip involoved Mt. Adams/Eden Park because we could ride up Hill St. or Monestary, also good climbs. Sometimes we’d head downtown and cruise around the stadium before/after Reds games or scout out the seemingly endless party-in-the-parks and street festivals. It was a fun way to check this out and have a blast dodging around the crowds.
The blend of partying and bar hopping vs. bike riding more or less continued in the same trend over my college years, with the ratio tipping ever more greatly into the partying side. Bike riding usually was only for commuting to class, and even that became a drag when I had a lot to carry. Especially when I lived at the bottom of Riddle Rd., a climb nearly as tough as Straight/Ravine Sts. It just sucked to ride or even walk up that hill before morning classes. And lest you get the wrong impression, I was an Architecture major at one of the highest rated universities in the country in that particular field. It is a tough, tough program that involved many hours of studio work, tons of credit hours, 6 years in a coop program (compared to the 5 of most others). Sleep deprivation is a way of life. So finding excuses to drive the short distance was an easy thing to do.
It isn’t hard to imagine that over this period of time weight gain was a steady thing. Bad diet and junk food binges, drinking, poor sleep habits, less and less exercise, you name it.
Stolen!: The end of riding
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but after one of our weekly Friday night Sr. Architect’s Beer Blasts, I stayed at the bar post-happy hour and drank more than usual. I had ridden my bike there and feeling more than a little buzzed, I decided to make a short ride over to Caruso’s, a pizza place where I had worked as a delivery driver. I left the bike out in the enclosed bier garden area (It had previously been a German restaurant), knowing that the owner’s German Shepard was nearby. I went in to order food and BS with the owner and when I came out, the bike was gone. I called the police and a couple guys came by in a cruiser to take a report. They were nice guys, and they drove me around the area for a short while, in the hopes we’d get lucky and see the thief riding around or the bike abandoned. When we didn’t they at least gave me a ride home w/ my dinner in a styrofoam container and no bike.
I had no insurance, and since riding was by then only for occasional commuting, I didn’t buy a new bike. I continued on with college, graduation, jobs and such, all the while slowly gaining more weight and becoming more of a couch potato.
Proceed to Stormy Weather