Now that the weather has improved, the sun is shining, and it’s not quite a zillion degrees yet, Coffee got all our bikes in working order. He’s even looking at a new bike for himself, with the plan to hand down his current bike to Maymo, who is growing like a weed.
Historically, riding my bike has always been really enjoyable to me. I’ve had to make shifts in my thinking over the years, though, and adapt from racing (road bikes) to simply riding them. Then adjusting to a mountain bike (much slower and heavier). For a few years I couldn’t ride – my should and neck were too messed up and every ride was painful (during and after).
Last year I picked up a hybrid-y commuter bike (so I could sit upright more) and handed my mountain bike down to Middle One. I also went through a whole lot of physio on my neck and shoulder. Ta-da!
So here I am – bike tuned up, tires inflated, helmet dusted off. Ready to roll.
The funny thing about not riding for a while is that everything feels completely out of control. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am anxious while riding, but I am definitely not comfortable yet.
I am hypervigilant about the cars around me.
I feel like I’m going at warp speed when I hit 10km/h and it takes all my self-control not to scream at the top of my lungs.
I’m practicing shifting gears because I freak out when I realize I’m pedalling to fast/slow.
I’m definitely testing out my brakes far more than necessary.
But the biggest problem? I am in awful shape. Holy crap. I apparently have the lung capacity of a small cat and the endurance of a loaf of bread.
There’s a contributing problem. For the many of you who haven’t been to my home, or who weren’t paying particular attention when you visited, I live at the top of a hill. There is literally no way to get to my house, from any side or direction, without going up a hill. For real. Every road, every sidewalk, every pathway – – all of them are up a hill.
This means that the start of my bike ride is kind of awesome – wheeeeeeeeee! I AM GOING SO FAST!
It means that the end of my ride, however, is the worst – no matter which way I go. OHGOD I AM GOING TO DIE.
It really sucks.
In addition to getting comfortable on my bike again, there’s a little voice in my head saying, “Don’t go too far! Remember that you have the world’s biggest hill to climb on the way home!” That little voice talks me out of riding very far because, really, the idea of having to lie on the side of the road for an hour before dragging my carcass up the hill does not appeal to me. That little voice is a total buzzkill. I get riding and I am just delighted! I want to go and go and go and go – – but then I remember the hill.
I’ve tried to brainstorm my way out of this.
I considered putting my bike in the car, driving to a flatter area, and then riding around until I was finished and then driving home. The difficulty is that I’m short, and my arms are short, and loading my bike into my car is difficult (Well, no, that’s not fully true. Loading my bike in without chipping the paint off and scraping the crap out of the interior is difficult.) I looked into exterior bike racks, but since I drive a hatch-back-y sort of car, I can’t seem to find one that’s easy to use – ideally there’d be one that was easy to attach and remove to the car, easy to load my bike on (remember, short arms), AND not cost a million dollars AND hold my bike secure.
That seems like a lot of work. It also sort of ruins the spontaneity.
Then I considered the idea that okay, fine, I’ll be like a dog that got loose from a fenced yard – I’ll get too far away from home and I’ll be exhausted and probably lost. But I can call a cab or take a bus home – we live on a bus route! But I know that, realistically, that’ll never happen. I will just end up living out the rest of my life in whatever ditch is closest. I’m not going to figure out how to put my bike on the front of the bus. I’m not going to be able to cram my bike into a taxi. (Also, I’m a bit stubborn.)
I could call Coffee to come and get me, because he loves me and he doesn’t want me to live in a ditch, but he’s not always home when I want to ride. It goes without saying, I think, that he probably wouldn’t be excited about having to take time off from work to go get his sad, sad wife and her bike from the ditch where she’s collapsed. Especially not repeatedly. (Although I think the conversation he’d have with his boss would be hilarious.)
Soooooooooooo… guess who has to just suck it up? Yeah. Me.
Since I’m working from home today, I figured I’d go for a quick bike ride to test out a different route. The gradual incline on the way home was THE WORST but I made it. I didn’t have to walk my bike at all, unlike the other route, but I am pretty sure I won’t be able to use my legs for the rest of the day – making it even better that I’m working from home. Much like Coffee doesn’t want to come and get me every day after a bike ride, my coworkers aren’t really interested in dragging me up the steep, narrow staircase to my office several times a day.
And I went a little bit fast.
And I didn’t scream at all.
And I remembered that the objects (CARS! ALL CARS!) in my mirror are closer than they appear.
And I didn’t have to lie down in a ditch.