It is no secret, at least if you have been reading any of my prior ramblings, that I do not consider myself a biker or cyclist. Up until recently, I basically didn't touch my bike until I had a race to do. I did spin class and some trainer stuff, but I never took care of my bike. I'd bring her in to the local shop for tune-ups, etc. But I had a very hands off relationship with Marney
Over the past several months, I have been working hard to remedy that. I know that in order to ride 112 miles in October with a calm mind, I need to be one with my bike. I also know that I need to make the bike a priority. I desperately need to take the time to learn about my bike and its components, and make the time to get in the training.
And guess what? It's happening! I have made great strides overcoming my general "fear" of the bike, and I've really been logging the miles on it too, even if only in trainer mode while watching Netflix.
I've been practicing changing flats, and have gotten pretty quick at it. I adjusted my own aerobars too. I can even get air in the tires now without letting all the air out first... those bike air pumps can be tricky!
And, last weekend I went for my first outdoor ride of the season, logging 30 miles with two new biking buddies Jack and Chris. I was actually nervous the night before, as both guys have been biking longer than me and done a century ride.... I just didn't want to slow them down any. And I am happy to say I kept up, or at least seemed to. I had a lot of fun too; definitely much more entertaining to ride with other people.
At the tail end of the ride, I had my first self-induced crash. I panicked into a "stop short" braking situation which, when your feet are clipped into pedals, basically launches you and your bike to pitch forward. I landed hard on my left side, mainly on my elbow-to-forearm area, and my gear shift slammed onto the street, pinning my left hand between the two. I was not hurt badly at all, just minor bumps and bruises (and I know I'm lucky I didn't break anything!)... but I was a little freaked out that I landed in the middle of the road! Thankfully no cars were there at that moment in time, and I learned an important lesson about braking and clipped-in shoes!
As I was with two guys, I had about 20 seconds to leap back up to my feet and shake it off... boys don't offer sympathy, especially if there are no protruding bones or blood gushing. I laughed it off, and said I was fine. I hopped back on and, when the boys weren't looking, rubbed my arm back and forth to dull the pain. Man it hurt! And my left gear shift was completely bent inwards.
When I got home, after a beautiful 55 degree morning ride, I wiped my bike down and greased the chain. I have never ever put that kind of "care" into this before. And, I figured out how to fix the bent gear shift ALL BY MYSELF! I was so very proud.
While I have your attention, I may as well throw this out there: please, if you are driving and are coming up on a biker, keep three feet between you and them. That biker might be me, or anyone like me... a parent, someone's sister, someone's wife, a friend... its not worth saving yourself a few measly seconds to rush going around that biker or not taking precautions. "Three Feet" also happens to be the law... so... there's that. And yes, I know when you are driving, bikers can be annoying, and sometimes we seem to veer towards you or whatever... but you the driver are the one protected and you won't be injured if there's impact. So be careful and take care of us, please.
As I write this last part, I am looking out my window from my office on a beautiful 68 degree afternoon, knowing I am leaving a few hours early so I can go ride. And I'm excited about it!
Like anything new or out of our comfort zone, taking the time to get familiar with the unfamiliar, and making the time to prioritize it, greatly alleviates the anxiety and worry. Alright well, I have to go... this gorgeous day won't be here forever!