WHY I RIDE: A series that gets to the heart of why we love what we do. This week, Dave recounts time spent on two wheels with his family as a child and how his passion for cycling remains strong to this day.

I have been on a bike since before I could walk, not riding of course. My joy of biking started out sitting in a bike seat on the back of my mom’s bike while my dad and brothers rode alongside. We would spend weekends exploring the gravel trails of the Illinois Prairie Path, stopping along the way for ice cream.

Surprisingly, I can’t recall learning to ride a bike. I do have memories of riding my red mountain bike, or my brothers’ cool BMX bikes. When I was about 12, my passion for cycling grew when my grandfather handed down his 1987 Trek Elance. He was getting older and he moved on to recumbent bikes, and golfing. After riding mountain and BMX bikes for so long, I was fascinated that a bike with skinny tires and drop-down handlebars could go so fast. I spent countless summer days riding that bike as far as my legs would take me, again exploring the trails of the Prairie Path I had seen from the back seat of my mom’s bike.

It was only until I moved to Madison that I realized the joy of riding a road bike on the road. Who knew how much faster you can ride on a smooth surface? I still love riding my sparkly blue Elance. I didn’t have many chances to ride with my grandfather when he was alive, but riding his bike somehow makes me feel like I am riding with him.

Recently, I have upgraded to a 2018 Trek Domane SLR 6. I enjoy the road riding, but I can’t resist going back to my roots of gravel riding. The Domane is a little smoother and faster than the Elance on the gravel paths.

I ride my bike to explore destinations that would take too long to reach by foot, and those that are not accessible by car. I ride to have the wind in my face and the sun on my shoulders. I ride to reach new speeds and personal bests. I ride because it the only exercise I can enjoy getting up for, early on a Saturday morning. Most of all, I ride because it is what I knew even before I could walk, and I haven’t been able to stop.