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Back to basics

Leigh Easter

From the get-go, cycling was fun! I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I didn’t ride. At first it was the regular kid stuff all around the neighborhood with friends, but later as others outgrew those bike rides, my rides began to grow. I ventured out of the neighborhood, around town, miles and miles away from home… and of course I didn’t tell anyone how far I went! Although, I didn’t actually know at the time because then it was just for fun – there were no bike computers or other tracking methods. After I was old enough to drive I would sometimes go out and re-trace my route to see how far I was actually going… and then try to figure out how fast I was riding.

During college I played field hockey for Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. At the time they didn’t have a cycling team, but in my freetime between hockey practice, travel, and course work, biking remained my passion. I rode all over the western NC mountains. I learned to love solo wandering for loads of miles and over loads of hills. The Blue Ridge Parkway was my daily playground.

Later in life, jobs, responsibilities, kids, etc started to take over, and ‘free’ time for riding started to be in short supply. Riding became more about what and when I can squeeze a ride in. It was between work and dinner, or when my littles were napping, but it was always, ‘go quick, go hard, and be done.’

I had big plans for the year 2020. It was the first time in many years that (ready or not) I was going to throw myself back out for racing. I was excited! I hit the ground running at the start of the season, wanting to get my fitness back up. I nervously registered for a few races and began logging miles, lots of miles… maybe too many miles. I have a very old, very bad injury that flared up. My doctors still haven’t figured out exactly what is going on yet. At a point it was bad enough that I wasn’t able to walk or ride. I was devastated! Not only was COVID-19 causing all of our races to be cancelled, but this injury was also preventing me from riding at all.

Over the course of a few months, I began to be able to get out on my bike again. I started slowly with very short rides on sidewalks and streets. Over the months I’ve gradually added back in some trail time, it’s just much more slow and cautious than I was before - for now. I’ve also gotten to spend a lot more time riding with my daughters. What I have come to realize, is that the bulk of the riding I’ve been doing is exactly what I originally fell in love with about riding. I am finding joy in just being on my bike, rolling with no plan or agenda, and exploring new areas. It has been the greatest reminder of my love for this sport.