I once rode my mountain bike 180 miles from my parents' house in Galesburg, Illinois to where I was meeting my dad for work in Shelbyville, Illinois in the middle of the summer, down sometimes-sticky, freshly-oiled and pea-gravelled roads, long, undulating plains where all I could see was corn and soybeans until a watertower from the next town would appear on my horizon. I had no map, except for a crude printout of the towns in between, and I followed my instincts which led me to a dead end once but generally steered me south and east until I reached my destination. And then I went to work.
I grew up in a town and a time when kids could ride their bikes to school, and a lot of us did. It was that feeling of independence and self-reliance that I could ride my bike all the way to Farnham Elementary, past my older brother's middle school, when I would leave him and be truly free. Up over the bridge that spanned railroad tracks and down alongside the playground, past the grumpy old crossing guard who used to catch us climbing up the tubular fire escape during recess and send us to Mr. Douglas' office for detention. And then I would be late coming home on my metallic green Schwinn Stingray and my mother would worry and I would have to confess that I had to stay after school.
Bikes have always been a mode of transportation and a doorway to liberty. I rode my bike to little league baseball games and to my friend Wayne's house and down country roads to Spoon Lake where I was a lifeguard at a private club called Oak Run. And once I discovered that wheels were an accelerated version of walking, of hiking, I found my freedom in the vistas of Moab and the valleys of Crested Butte.
And I found my front tire on many a starting line, cross-country racing and 24-hour racing and adventure racing and rolling out of transition on my fastest leg of a du- or triathlon. After my 180-mile commute to work, I took second place in a Cat 2 XC race in Telluride and then watched the pros flow through the ribbons of singletrack that bucked me like a wild stallion. And their finesse and fitness inspired me like poetry. Like the first time I roasted coffee and discovered that it could be SO MUCH BETTER.
I found this again, much to my surprise, at Tulsa Tough. I've been at almost every single race every year, at first because I wanted to support a local event, but it got me right off, the speed, the power, the sounds of chains being turned by professional lungs and legs and the wind that blows my hair back when they pass. And two years ago, it inspired me to actually buy a road bike. And at the end of last year I upgraded to a really nice road bike. And now I'm about to compete in my first criterium races. Tulsa Tough is this Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday morning.
So this year, not only am I turning over a new set of pedals, but we've teamed up with Tulsa Tough to bring you a special coffee, the Tulsa Tough Coffee Blend. It's a smooth coffee with notes of berry and nut and chocolates, and it's suitable for espresso or drip or presspot. We got you covered. I roasted it today and they'll be selling it for $20 a pound at the races this weekend. If you're doing one of the Gran Fondo rides Saturday, you'll have a chance to sample this limited coffee before you roll out. If not, drop by the Tulsa Tough merchandise tent while you're watching men and women pour their hearts into their pedals and pick up a pound to brew at home.
I'm going to keep riding and roasting. Because it's possible that the bike brought me to where I am today. Bikes and coffee. Ask any real cyclist. It's possible that the faster the cyclist, the more they love coffee. I know why, but I'm not telling you.