Good Intentions, Flawed Results
Today I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a bicycle. It’s the most expensive single item I have ever purchased for myself not including a car or house or children. To be accurate, I never purchased children but they have each been ridiculously expensive and singularly cost more than my house.
Her name is Bette, the Silver Fox. My hubby suggested that I call her Hi Ho, like “Hi Ho Silver”, which wasn’t a bad idea but I wasn’t sold on the idea of the words Hi and Ho being the best moniker for my new life endeavor. She needed something sleek and sexy. Something befitting the fast, sassy, take-no-prisoners extravagant two-wheeled cycle of glory. She’s named after Bette Davis, who famously said, “Old age is no place for sissies.” Damn straight, Bette, damn straight.
Bette meet Bette
Given my enthusiasm, empty wallet and careful name selection, you would assume that I know something about cycling. And you would be wrong. I mean I know how to sit on the seat, push the pedals and steer without generally falling over or crashing into something but actually RIDE a bike Ala Lance Armstrong (minus the performance enhancing drugs); well that is not in my wheelhouse (pun intended).
So other than actually purchasing a bike, which was painful enough, I had to ask someone to explain the fundamentals of cycling. I’m not sure if anything feels as humbling as buying a racing bike and then having to explain that you actually know nothing about racing bikes. Like literally nothing. I mean I see people doing it so I know it’s possible and their little outfits make me worry that I’m joining a cult but otherwise I know nada. The problem with knowing nothing is that you don’t even know what to questions to ask.
Fortunately, the good people at Livermore Cyclery were undaunted by overwhelming lack of knowledge and their help and courtesy bolstered my confidence in buying a bike and learning to race. I had to choose a bike, which to be honest was mainly about price for me, and then get fitted. The fitting process required a lot of adjustments to the seat, handlebars and brake handles. My first lesson was understanding that the reason I didn’t like to ride a bike was due to the bike not fitting me properly. My years of dismounting after riding and then clumsily heading off into the sunset with a bow-legged saunter that would make John Wayne jealous; were over. My aching ass was jubilant.
My mind started picturing all the fun rides I was going to go on with my cycling friends, the wind blowing in my hair, the child-like exuberance of pedaling my brand new sleek silver fox cycle. I was ready. “Bette”, I whispered, “let’s ride!”
Apparently though I wasn’t ready because I was being asked to make a decision about clip in pedals and shoes. Uh…um…hmmm. Suddenly the thought of clip in shoes was a real commitment. Bette and I were about to become one with this decision. This sounded serious. I started sweating. There was a lot of mumbo jumbo about pedals and clips and different styles of shoes and pros and cons. He seemed undaunted by my confusion, although I am sure that I looked a lot like this:
When I can’t make up my mind, my instinct is to just go with my gut feeling. My gut feeling is lead by a tiny masochist with a limited vocabulary. He has exactly three phrases – “YES!” , “HELL YES!”, and “I can’t think of a reason to say no, so YES!”. So yeah, I bought tiny little pedals to clip my shoes into and of course the shoes with clips to clip into the tiny pedals. I mean other than cost, the benefits certainly seem to outweigh the alternatives. For the most part. Except for one thing.
As my new cyclery friend is putting all of this together he mentions, in passing, that I will have to get out of the clips BEFORE I stop the bike completely. Hold up, say what? Yes I will have to slow the bike down, unclip and put one foot on the ground, stop completely and then unclip the other foot. If I do not do this properly, I will fall over…HARD.
Suddenly my enthusiasm is replaced with impending doom. I guess that I should have mentioned that I have a problem with falling before he put on the “pedals of death”. It’s not really a problem as much as it’s a fact of my existence but at my age the idea of falling is terrifying. I’m nearing the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” phase of life so spending a lot of money on your probable death trap is a little disconcerting but the deed has been done.
The next step is to take Bette out for a ride and find out the extent of my bad decision-making. So we head out into the parking lot and I clip in. It is pretty awesome. Bette is light and fast and the clipped in shoes are awesome for my alignment. I think I hear my ass cheeks cheering, I take a few laps around the parking lot and prepare myself for the stop. I slow down, unclip one foot, put it on the ground, stop completely and unclip the other foot. SUCCESS IS MINE! I rock. I am amazing. My husband is smiling. Then I realize that my cyclery friend is not paying attention. This will not do. He needs to witness the birth of a great cyclist here in the Livermore Cyclery parking lot!
I make sure he sees me and clip back in and start riding around the parking lot again. I am so good at this. Bette and I are a great team. This is money well spent. I am smiling as I pass by him and slow to a stop. In my enthusiasm and over-confident state, I unclip the opposite foot from the way that I am leaning. Holy crap. I’m expecting to hear “Timber!” as I feel myself fall over right in front of everyone. I land on my hopeful ass, elbow, shoulder and hand and then lay there because I am CLIPPED IN. I finally wrangle my foot loose as they are running over to make sure I am okay. I am. I get up, dust off, and look at Bette, who is now dirty and has a bent seat. Poor Bette, she doesn’t know what she has gotten herself into.
I’m no psychic but I am picturing a new long-term relationship with asphalt in my future. My bruised ass is no longer very happy. My only consolation is the thought that I should invest in a Go Pro so that when I am inevitably hospitalized, I can pay off the bill with hefty check from America’s Funniest Home videos.
If you see Bette and me riding free just remember that we have to stop sometime. You should consider staying “restraining order” distance away just to protect yourself and your loved ones. You have been warned.
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