For several years I have been talking about retiring my sturdy hybrid bike and getting a racy new road bike. But every time I have been ready to get it, something else has come up that has sucked away the needed funds. Car engines have died, the HVAC went kaput, the exterior of the house needed painted…you get it…life happened, and I didn’t really NEED a new bike. My hybrid is perfectly fine, if somewhat ridiculous. It was supposed to be my daughter’s bike and she picked it out when she was 12. It’s canary yellow, and it has a charming little bell on it, and a saddle the size of Wisconsin, (and my ass.) My old helmet, also selected by my daughter, is a dusty blue, with flowers on it. Seriously. I am not a yellow and blue with flowers kind of girl. But I am practical, and since we already had it, and since she had shown no real signs of becoming a regular rider, I absconded with her stuff.
But, thanks to a tax refund this year, I finally got my new bike! Shopping for it was a little bit of an ordeal. Thank God I made no pretension about knowing what the hell I was talking about in regards to biking – made it easier for me to get the help I needed at the store. When they asked me what kind of gears my hybrid had on it, I replied, “The spinny kind on the handle.” (That’s a kind, right?) I know nothing about biking other than that I love it. I love the wind in my face, the sights passing by, the sense of freedom and of youth recaptured that I feel as I fly down an incline, my inner eight year old shouting, “This is so wicked cool!” But I know nothing of gears, and wheels and weights and such.
But when they asked what I was looking for in a new bike I had an answer ready for them. “I want to look cooler when I ride it.” The salesperson laughed it off, and said, “All that really matters is that you have fun while you ride,” to which I replied, “I will have more fun if I look cooler.” When I’m on the bike path, plugging along on my trusty hybrid, I regularly get passed by people on their fancy-schmancy road bikes, all sleek and shiny, and they’re wearing their cool biking costumes, with their special shoes, and jazzy jerseys, and helmets that don’t have flowers on them. Meanwhile I trail behind, looking like Miss Gulch in The Wizard of Oz, if she were to trade in her chapeau for a flowered helmet. I squelch the urge to shout out at the other bikers as they pass by, “I’ll get you my pretty!”
Call me shallow, but I was ready for an upgrade.
And I got one! A Trek Lexa SLX. (Last year’s model, so it was discounted, making everything else I bought practically free!) Isn’t it beautiful?
And I got some cleated bike shoes just like the cool kids wear…
And a helmet that matches my bike and doesn’t have a flower anywhere on it!
Still no jazzy jersey yet. Maybe next month.
The bike weighs practically nothing, really, which is very cool when I’m putting it in my car, but less so when it feels like the wind is going to blow me over. And being lower to the ground, riding on the “hoods,” makes me feel a little vulnerable. I took a couple of bikes out for test drives at the store, which is a weird thing to do, because the clerk watches to see how the bike fits you. I haven’t had someone watch me ride a bike since kindergarten. I’m not sure that I do it “right,” so I felt a little self conscious. And I have Tyrannosaurus Rex arms,
so it was a little challenging to get a bike to fit right. I fell in between a 47 and a 50, but went with the 50 because
a) It was prettier
b) It was on sale
c) I couldn’t feel much of a difference anyway
d) All of the above
Having never ridden with cleated bike shoes before, the clerk wisely put the bike in a stand and had me practice somewhere that I couldn’t fall down. I figured out how to work the shoes right away, reminding myself that irregardless of how much I fall down (an every other day occurrence,) I am actually quite coordinated and that I used to be a jock. She warned me that once out of the stand I WOULD fall down…it was just a matter of time.
The first couple of days I just practiced in my neighborhood. On the third day I decided I was ready to take it out on it’s maiden journey and I headed to the bike path near my house. (I am SO lucky to have a 10 mile paved trail near my house. Eventually it’s going to be 25 miles, which will allow me to do a 50 mile ride without having to worry about cars. And I can listen to my music!) I did about 4 miles and then noticed that the weather was starting to look a little threatening so I turned around. About a mile from home I blew a flat. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Having no spare with me, and having not taken the bike repair class yet anyway, I was screwed. I gingerly walked my bike the rest of the way home, trying not to damage my new Shimano shoes and cleats. Big loss of cool points.
So I took it to the shop where the owner told me, “Yep, that happens all the time.” What? My hybrid has never had a flat. He tried to show me how to change it, but I couldn’t even do it when it was in the repair stand…I’m thinking the likelihood that I’ll be able to do it on the road is slim to none. My plan of action is something like this…
…only picture a bike where the car is and, and I’m wearing this instead of the black dress…
…but besides that, pretty much the same. (I think the triangle formed where my leg fat splooges really emphasizes my lady bits nicely, and will no doubt catch someone’s eye.)
A couple of days later I went out again, watching out for any debris, crossing over bumps in the road while chanting, “Don’t blow a flat, don’t blow a flat, don’t blow a flat.” Success! 23 miles done and I only fell once. (The lady at the store was right. It had to happen. Probably won’t be the last time.)
I was left with a skinned knee, which made me ridiculously happy.
I spent most of my youth with similar wounds on both knees. I was a tree climbing, sliding to home plate, jump-roping fool. That day on the trail I had a flash back to my elementary school playground! Skinned knees are a sign that you’re out there living! Yay me! Yes, I probably looked like a goof ball as I toppled over on my pretty new bike, in my snazzy new costume, a wee bit of blood trickling down my shin. But no worries, because just like with everything else in life, sometimes when you try new things you topple over! In the past, being a perfectionist held me back, but now that I’m older, and infinitely wiser, I feel exhilarated when I F*** up. Okay, slightly embarrassed too, but mostly I like it! Failing is something I have gotten really good at lately!
And now I have the skinned knee to prove it!
Stay tuned for more biking updates as the summer progresses! How about you guys? Anyone else like to saddle up? (Speaking of saddles, ay carumba! My new bike has a saddle the size of Rhode Island. What’s up with that? I kind of miss Wisconsin. )
Happy trails to you!