Rookie Lessons

bike grease

My bike loves me so much she kisses me on the leg as we ride. But her mouth is dirty.

I’ve been cycling on the road for just over a week now, and am enjoying it immensely.  By acting confident, I have gained real confidence and I feel as though I belong on the road just as much as everyone else.  I take pride in being a courteous cyclist, helping to enhance the good name of road bike riders everywhere.  I make sure to keep as far left as possible, I ride safely, I don’t do anything that would scare my fellow road users.

I actually feel more comfortable on the road than riding on the path, where I always worried I’d suddenly run over some pedestrians as they stepped out of their front gate.

I know I have the telltale ‘rookie’ signs, of grease on my leg (see above) and a distinct lack of lycra.  Thankfully I do have a pretty helmet that matches my bike, as well as very nice clippy shoes, but that doesn’t really make up for my ‘rabbit hopping’ up and down on the bike when I start trying to pump my legs extra hard.  Apparently the pros pump the legs and not the neck, but for some reason as a newbie I find bobbing my head up and down in time with my legs makes me go quicker.  I’m trying to stop this; the more time I spend on my bike, the more I will improve.

Conversely, the more time I spend on my bike, the more likely two ‘not-so-good things’ become.  The first is that I will get an extremely sore bottom, lose the dare set by The Other Lauren and buy some cycling shorts.  The second is that I will fall off the bike.

Apparently this morning, the Triathlon Gods decided that I had spent enough time on the bike to warrant the ‘Likelihood of Things’ to become 100% guaranteed.

As may or may not be apparent from this blog, I am quite a competitive person in some aspects.  I was steadfastly committed to enduring maximum amounts of bottom pain if it meant I could win a dare with someone I don’t know and will most likely never see again – IE the lady who sold me my bike and told me I probably don’t need cycling shorts.

This obviously ridiculous contest between me and The Other Lauren was worsened by my desire to try and do this triathlon thing on the cheap – because not only was I winning the dare by not buying any padded shorts, I was saving money that could be funneled into other things like the $350 Noosa Triathlon entry fee.

Eventually this idiocy reached its limit and a beacon shone up into the sky, but instead of a bat, the light beamed the silhouette of a silver fox.  The call to a crazy Grandpa.

I imagine he came storming up to the house, waving his hands about madly like last time.  But I wasn’t there so I can’t report with certainty.  All I know is, I got home and strewn over my chair was a pair of shiny new bike shorts with a massive pad sewn in the crotch.  I trotted down to Grandpa’s house (he lives in a mini house in our backyard) and happily exclaimed that some professional cyclist appeared to have left a pair of shorts on my chair.  Grandpa reluctantly admitted that yes, he had put them there, but they were too small for him to wear so he just hoped I could make use of them.  Now you know where I get my jokes from.

If anyone speaks to my namemate at the 99 Bikes shop, please be sure to let her know that I was absolutely outraged at this kind and loving gesture from Grandpa, which thwarted my victory over her.  But of course I immediately slipped on my beautiful new shorts and was delighted to find that they even have strips of rubber along the inside seam that goes around my leg (which as Shane kindly pointed out, will prevent them from riding up, because apparently my other shorts had been exposing all of my cellulite as I rode along.  Lovely.)

New cycling shorts

New shorts, chucked on my chair in disgust by Grandpa

I jumped on my bike and immediately felt better with a bit of cushioning.  I yelled to Shane that I’d meet him at the gym and started hurtling down the road.

It was a beautiful day, the wind felt good in my face.  I waved to a man mowing his lawn a few houses down and turned the corner to head towards the busy road.  I pedaled with strength and confidence.

And as I came to the T intersection where I had to give way to the busy road, I noticed too late that a car was driving too fast and would be too close for me to pull out in front of him.  I had already half-committed to entering the road, so I had to tug hard on the brakes in order to stop and let the car go past.

I yanked on both my brakes and focused all my attention on not butting into the traffic.  I had no brain cells left available to tell my feet to unclip out of the pedals.  I came to an abrupt stop perfectly at the white line on the bitumen, and like a domino unexpectedly fell sideways, still sitting on my bike.

I landed on my elbow and somehow the bounce onto the ground reverberated through my body and shook my legs free of the pedals, so within half a second I was jumping back up on my bike and chastising myself.  My primary concern really was that the car passing me would have seen, and might stop and check if I was OK.

I tried to look professional, as though it were totally normal to lie down in the middle of the road with your bike between your legs.  I kept a straight face and hoped I looked like a road-hardened triathlete.  The car continued on and I didn’t look up to see whether they were managing to control their laughter; I did a class-A impression of ‘Experienced Bike Rider Reprograms Bike Computer Mid-Ride’.

ouch

The battle scars of a crap triathlete

I didn’t check my arm at the time, but I knew I had done a little teeny bit of damage because I felt a bit of burn as I cycled on.  I pedaled harder all the way to the gym in case the car came back to find me, so that they would see I was a real athlete.  I laughed at myself as I rode, so I probably would have just looked like I was crying or something, which in hindsight would have been worse.  Next time, no laughing.

Strangely, I wasn’t frightened of falling off again and the rest of the ride to the gym was actually more enjoyable knowing I had survived the inevitable Bad Thing.  I am going to tick it off my list now, although I am sure it will happen again.  I am a road bike rider, after all.  Sorry mum.

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