It was my deepest, darkest, most shameful secret. I carried it with me for almost 32 years. Before late January, 2012, I had never learned to ride a bike. Oddly enough, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one.
When I took my REI Learn How To Ride A Bike course, I discovered that there were, in fact, others like me, who just never picked it up as a kid. The reasons ran the gamut, from, “My parents were bad teachers,” to “I never owned a bike,” and beyond. The instructors told me that the class was their most popular one. Yep, there are a lot of people out there who hold onto this secret, and who never dare to try to learn because they are afraid of getting hurt and afraid of looking silly. Yet, after 32 years of longing and hiding my bicycling ineptitude with all sorts of excuses (“Oh, I just prefer to walk eight miles.”), within 30 minutes of instruction, I was pedaling around the parking lot. It was an awesome moment of miraculousness and absolute dumbfoundedness that it was that simple all along.
With run training, I didn’t get as many hours on the bike as I probably should have, and, even though I knew that it was not as hard as I originally thought it would be, I kind of avoided taking the bike out by myself at times because of the intimidation factor. By the end of the summer, I’d acquired a cycling buddy to go on weekly beach rides with, and I built up my confidence on the hybrid to where I could start hitting the more major thoroughfares with more confidence and not feeling as though me and my bike were just ingredients at the ready to make a twisted metal pancake.
I probably would have been fine, gathering confidence on the hybrid (dubbed, “Little Glory”), continuing on in that way for a while. Buuuut no. No, I had to step it up a notch. Well, a couple of notches, actually. I decided to go for this Ironman thing. Of course, now, that means that I have to leave the comfort of my hybrid and get comfortable on a sportier model, the bike I have named, “Shadow Comet”.
Shadow Comet is a gray and black Specialized Women’s Dolce Sport and she is very sensitive, especially compared to Little Glory. This morning we went for our first REAL ride, with Coach Emily. Just starting off on Shadow Comet has taken some getting used to. Her downhill positioning, compared to the very upright position of the hybrid, made me feel a little out of control when pushing off. I felt like, if I even looked at a scary obstacle, I would feel myself veering toward it. By the end of the 50-minute ride, however, I felt a bit more confident, a bit more in control, although, if anything scary had jumped into my path, I probably would have freaked out and ended up in a ditch. I guess, just like with the hybrid, it takes time to get comfortable.
Saturday is a team bike ride. They’ll stay in the parking lot initially, and I have to pass a “safety test” in order to be able to ride with the pack, so we’ll see how things go. Here’s hoping I don’t wobble wildly out of control and end up taking out some of my teammates in the process. Oy, I certainly have gotten myself into it this time! Wish me luck!