Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kicking It Up A Notch

I'm breaking in a new bike.

I wasn't going to blog about this, because my initial thought was, "Hey, so what?  New bike?  No biggie...".  After 7 years riding around on the hybrid, I decided to--in the words of Emeril Lagasse--"kick it up a notch" and get a road bike.

I liked my hybrid, but I thought if I had a road bike, I could go a bit faster and take longer rides.

Right now, that seems like a bit of a foolish dream, because I have two obstacles to contend with: the toe clips and the seat.

I'll start with the latter.  In my opinion, bike seats are one of two things.  Either they are 1) a way for the biking apparel industry to make scads of money on padded shorts, or 2) an undeclared torture device that would make a Spanish Inquisitor proud.

As one of my friends once said, "I think bike seats were designed by a guy who hates women."  To which I responded, "I don't think he likes men a whole lot either, really..." and she had to agree.

We therefore concluded, "Bike seats are designed by people who hate people." 

As I rode along yesterday, I was reminded of the time when a guy I know rather patronizingly told me, "I don't think you've ever known love."  (Sidebar: At the time, I thought he said it to me because I'm single, but I've since learned that he just says it to whoever, so it's actually not about me--or anyone, really.  Except maybe him.  Because FYI, dude: I have cats.)

All I could think as I rode along yesterday was, "If a girl's never known love and she rides on a seat like this for too long, chances are, she never will."

At one point, I hit a pothole and somehow managed to resist the impulse to shriek "Holy Christ!"  (I'm kinda proud of myself for that.)

When I got home, I went out and bought a gel seat cover and dropped the height of the seat.  I don't give a damn how uncool it is.  In my opinion, a lady should always to take proper care of her lady-parts, and she shouldn't have to spend a fortune on padded shorts to do it.

They would never have gotten away with a bike seat like that in the Victorian era.  That's all I'm going to say.

And then, there are the toe clips--or toe straps, really.  When I got the bike, the guy explained that you can "leave them loose," but that if you do, you "lose performance."

I explained to him that I'm kinda more into "survival" than "performance."  (He thought I was joking.)

Because the idea that I will deliberately attach myself to a bike just doesn't sit well with me.  The analogy everyone always uses is, "Well, but it's like ski boots.  They attach your leg to the ski."

But no, it isn't like ski boots.  Because several decades ago, the good people of the ski equipment industry realized that they needed to come up with something such that, if a person begins to fall, the skis are released, so that you aren't still attached to them when you hit the ground.

That way, you don't hurt yourself quite as badly, because you're not skidding and hurtling along the ground attached to a waxed strip of fibreglass.  You know, so it doesn't look like the guy on the ski jump in the Wide World of Sports intro. trailer from the '70's.

I really don't know why the bike industry doesn't want to address this major difference between skis and bikes--or at least stop making comparisons between the two-- but in my opinion, it's a major difference.

So anyway, I now have toe clips.  I've taken spin classes, so I know how they work, but I must say, it is unlikely you're ever going to get me to reach down and tighten a toe clip when I'm pedaling along on a moving bike.

Because that takes a level of balance and coordination that I'm 99% certain I just don't have.  Even with all of the Pilates training.  If memory serves, there were early mornings when I nearly tipped myself off of the stationary bike in spin class, trying to adjust the clips.

Yes, I'm clutzy.

So, to take that kind of risk in order to do something that I'm rather opposed to doing  (i.e., attaching myself to a moving bike in a way that can't be undone quickly)... well, I just don't see it happening.

I thought I had gotten the knack of the toe clips yesterday, because I got in and out of them quickly and relatively easily.  But then today, no go.  I was near tears and dropping F-bombs and sobbing phrases like "platform pedals" and hoping that my neighbors weren't watching.  Or that if they were, they just assumed whatever I was doing was somehow what I was supposed to be doing and that it was all very "professional."

Finally, I got my feet in them, and off we went.  (Yes, I think of the toe clips and the bike seat as living entities at this point.)

Thing is, I then decided that it would be foolhardy to stop.   Because I might never be able to get my feet back in the clips, given that the day seemed to be completely jinxed as far as such things went.

Who needs a drink of water while exercising on an 80-degree day, really?  We'll be fine.

Thing is, as I was biking through the park, a guy stopped me to ask for directions.  Yes, I suppose I could have screamed, "End of the road, turn left!" as I blasted by him, but I felt that would be rude.

I must have looked at him and at my toe clips with a noticeable expression of despair though, because he said, "Thank you--I'm sorry I made you stop."

But I think the heavens were kind to me because I stopped to do a good deed, because after that, I was able to get into the toe clips again with minimal effort.  So that gave me hope that, with practice, I'll get it.


Let's put it this way: when I left the house, I was tired of reading and knitting.  But when I got home, all I could think was, "Thank god--a book and some knitting.  That's all I want from life.  Ever."

Except for maybe a drink of water.   And an ice-pack.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."