Or, alternatively titled: My first humiliating experience.
We have all met Lexi when I mentioned that I may have gone crazy in taking on a new hobby. Now I should tell you about our first
near death ride together. I bought her on a Sunday, her and a lot of shiz to go with. One thing I'm holding out on purchasing until I'm sure I need it is car rack. I live in a great location with access to many different biking trails so I don't need to be driving her to new unexplored territory just yet. So when I bought her I had driven my car to the store. No big deal - the store always does one final check before the bike goes to its new owner and they would install all of my "accessories" to boot. I would metro the following night after work to the store to drive her home.
To say I was nervous was an understatement. I mean - I know how to ride a bike, but this was different. This was a big girl bike. It was our first official ride together. I imagined it being somewhat like when the hospital kicks new parents to the curb and they're all "wait, we're not ready to be alone with it...why can't we stay here longer where you tell us when to feed it and how to keep it living...what if we hurt it...what if it hurts us?"
I was stalling in the store asking my new friends at Revolution if they were sure I was ready. "Yes, you are ready - now please get out of our store as we are closing, and this is the second night in a row you have stayed past close." They didn't really say that, but it's likely they were thinking it.
When I say they installed all my accessories, that included my new pedals. But remember, they are only "professional" pedals on one side. Don't worry - I am a "professional" - a professional spinning class attendee that is. One that became even more "advanced" in 2008 when I purchased my first pair of cycling shoes. You know, the kind that permanently attach your foot to the pedal like some sort of torture device. The purpose for this is a more efficient pedal stroke, and the experts are totally right. When you wear the shoes and are "clipped in," you can tell a huge difference in your stroke/form, the efficiency of the way your muscles move and the energy exerted to complete a revolution.
Before you say what I know you're going to say - I'm not naive enough to think that because I clip-in for spinning class I was ready for it on a moving bike. I completely understood that there would be a learning and adjustment period. I probably could have waited, but remember, I have the clipless only on one side. Plus they were installing everything on my bike for me so why not go ahead and have them installed for when I was ready and I would ease myself into them by using the traditional pedal side until I got used to riding.
Good intentions aside - I was 100% not planning on riding my inaugural ride clipped in. However, patience is not my strong suit, and I just had to "practice" and see what it was like. Never mind that one of my new friends gave me a total big head. There we were in the store, him holding the bike just so I could practice clipping in and out with my new pedals. He said, "wait - I thought you said you've never done this before."
To which I replied, "I haven't - not on a moving bike, only in spin class." Then he was all "oh, pshh - you're way ahead of most. Look, you've got this."
So off I go, with my new
toy baby in the neighborhood behind the store, away from traffic where I could practice before I headed home. Just to see if I could. Everything is going great. I'm riding around, coming up to stop signs, clipping in and out and adjusting to the bike. Not even 15 minutes go by and I'm all, "okay, good practice session, I'm just going to go over here to this sidewalk and change out my shoes and head home." There I go, up this teeeeny hill to a stop sign by the sidewalk...but holy balls - I'm stuck, oh my gosh - I cannot get my feet out! Ohhh emmmm geee...I'm falling over, *bam*. Yep, that just happened.
I knew it was going to happen at some point, it happens to everyone learning (or so my friends say, probably just to make me feel better), I just didn't think it would happen in my first 15 minutes. It's such a helpless feeling. It's like I was looking down on myself from above laughing and pointing, saying, "haha - you're stuck you sucker." I couldn't believe how fast my momentum was just gone. I have a lovely bruise as a souvenir. I will not post a picture of it here, it's that gnarly - you are welcome. Thankfully my bike survived the incident without a scratch.
So I stand up, dust off my pride, immediately change shoes and head home. Terrified of everyone and everything around me en route. Forget that extra mile I was going to throw in...I was looking for the quickest way to safety.
Things are going MUCH better now thankyouverymuch. Each time I ride I feel more and more confident. It only took me three rides until I felt completely safe enough to grab my water bottle and drink, while moving! Baby steps people, baby steps. It will likely be at least a year before I even contemplate riding with headphones....on the lowest volume possible (how do people do that?).
I still hate riding in traffic though. I'm like a nervous chihuahua looking around me, "what's that car going to do? is it going to stop? should I go? should he go? do i have enough time to get my feet right and make it across? On your lefffft! Damn, I should have just wrapped myself in bubble wrap"
This past weekend I was at the Revolution location in Georgetown and met one of their awesome staff. She was so supportive of my newbie stank and telling me about the wonderful group rides that will start back up in the Spring. They are fully staffed so they are "no-drop" rides (ie, no one gets left) - I'll learn how to safely ride in traffic and how to ride in a pack of others. Fantastic, sign me up. Just what I need...like yesterday!
So until March, I'll just...pray. And read books - blogs and a lot of books, Roadbiking for Dummies perhaps? Soliciting all suggestions and humiliating stories for self-soothing.
Oh and please pass the bubble wrap.