Friday, April 16, 2010


When I bought my bicycle, I was very enthusiastic about this new addition to my greener/healthier lifestyle, that is, until I rode it and realized how ill-prepared my legs and rear end were for such an abrupt change. I had no idea going greener was going to be such a literal pain in the ass.

It started off a grandiose rude awakening as I struggled to make the 2.5-mile distance around my favorite forest preserve. The pain in my tush from an uncomfortable seat sent me straight to the bike shop for a decent gel seat, which helped, but did not empower my legs, nor did it stop the burning and trembling after a short jaunt around my subdivision.

Also I learned you have to tighten that seat really well before going on a ride away from your car and toolbox.

My brother sent me this email right after I put the new seat on and he found the old one in the garage.

Hey, I was in the garage tossin' some trash and saw you have a new seat for your bike. Did you want me to throw it on for you? It's been a while but I've changed about 2 thousand bike seats so it would only take me 5 minutes. Seeing it made me nostalgic for the old bike riding days and it is oddly mind blowing that as a kid I could ride a bike for 4-5 hours straight and now I don't even like going downstairs. Time is just rude.

This was my response.

Thanks for the offer, but that's the old seat I put on the thingy for the new one. I have a 90-day warranty on the new one and didn't want to throw away the packaging, so I threw the old seat back on it so no one would throw it away. See, I was thinking all smart and stuff! Thanks for the offer, but I already did it. And, of course, having never done it before, I put it on too loose and half-way through the trail at the forest preserve it started slipping, and I had to ride 1½ miles back to my car to get the socket wrench with the seat standing straight up between my legs, like some naughty toy. Very humiliating. BUTT, I tightened it and it's been okay since. Still, I need the packaging because I think I'm going to take it back and get the wider seat. My butt still hurts.

You're right about time. I do 2 laps around the subdivision and fall off the bike trying to get up the driveway at the end because my legs can't hold me up. Sucks to get old.

Later on we were discussing it and he asked me where I liked to ride.

Me: Well, I had been doing the forest preserve, but that's too hard because it's a 3-6 mile loop, depending on the route, and so much can happen, as I learned with my seat, and bad things only happen when you're at the farthest distance from your car.

Bro: OHMYGOD, I hadn't even thought about that. What if you have to pee? What if you get hungry? GASP!

Me: Well, I wasn't thinking that. I was thinking more serious. Like, what if I take a dive over the handlebars and break my face? Or what if a coyote jumps out and bites my leg? Or what if I have to...poop?

Bro: Wow, I hadn't thought about the serious stuff. I was focused on peeing and being hungry, but you're right.

Me: Yeah, now I just ride around the subdivision because at any point I can cut across the field in the middle and get home a lot quicker, or if I feel up to it, do another lap. Or if I get marauded by a low-flying flock of geese, I can get home to get the dog and sic him on them right away. The subdivision is a lot safer to me. And I'm all about safety. I even carry ID with me when I bike and I take my cell phone. I don't trust myself not to get killed.

Bro: I just never thought about it! You COULD get killed! Riding a bike when you're grown up is so different from riding when you're a kid. Wow.

Me: Tell me about it! It's not only worse because I have no strength or endurance, but I'm all wigged out about dying on my bike from a freak accident and being far from home or unidentifiable. It really sucks being a grown-up biker. God, I should get a helmet. And pads. And prescription pain-killers.

At some point, I posted on my Facebook page that my thighs and ass were aflame, or something less offensive. Best Friend Extraordinaire saw the post and commented that we should go biking together, which sounded novel, but then I realized just how stupid that idea was for me. It's one thing to be out in the middle of a forest preserve alone, or riding around my subdivision, huffing and puffing, sweating like a pig, eyes watering from the wind, nose running from looking down, still trying to figure out the complicated gear shifting (which is why I drive an automatic!), and I certainly don't need an experienced rider alongside making fun of me the entire time.

We went out to eat together over the weekend and had the following conversation:

Me: So, I read your comment on my FB page about biking together, and while that's a nice Not going to happen.

Her: WHY?!

Me: Because I can barely ride.

She laughed.

Me: No, seriously, I'm not as wobbly as I was the first week, thankfully, but I can't shift gears. At all. Or I'll shift, and it makes this terrible noise like grinding the engine and then two blocks later, when the landscape has changed again, it shifts to what I wanted two blocks ago. I'm a mess. I'm dangerous. I can't ride straight or even shift gears.

Her: Shift gears? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, noooooooooo, I don't do that. I just ride in whatever gear it's in. I don't do the gear-shifting.

Me: No? Whew. Okay. But then I have this strength problem. You'd think that a year of working out multiple times a week would prepare my legs and ass for the ability to bike, but nuh-uh! I ride around my subdivision twice and by the time I get off the bike to put it in the garage, my legs are so weak they can't hold me up and my knees buckle.

Her: What?! You ride around your subdivision TWICE? I don't do that! I ride with my son and we only go 3 blocks at a time. I don't do subdivisions!

Me: Okay, that's good to know. But I also can't do uphill. Maybe it's the whole gear-changing problem, but I can't propel myself up the slightest incline yet. It's strictly flat surfaces for me.

Her: Ohhhhhh yeah, I don't do uphill either.

Me: You don't?

Her: Nope. Why would I do something stupid like that? That takes more effort.

Me: I like your style. We can go biking anytime you want!

And so I have faith again that BFE and I can renew our friendship, despite how our lives have gone in such different directions this last decade. And it was a bike that brought us together.

The funny thing is, we'll make plans to bike together and never do it, which is also fine by me. It's the thought that counts, and the knowledge that we are equals when it comes to biking, and that alone is enough to bond us together once more: sisters in infirmity.


Anonymous said...

Keep it up, girl. Keep thinking about how toned your ass and legs are going to be a few months from now!
VA Sends.

Leelu said...

GET A HELMET! No, seriously. My avid biker friend broke his neck and a couple ribs in a freak tumble a few years back, and if he hadn't been wearing his helmet his skull would have been split open and spilling brains all over the road.

Happy Villain said...

VA Sends:
Sweetie, at the rate I'm going, I might be toned in 2014. :) But at least I'm trying.

You are NOT supposed to tell me stories like that! How would you like if I told you I had a friend who was playing Final Fantasy and during a particularly vivid and pretty story scene, the flashing caused him to have a seizure and he stroked out and died?

Leelu said...

No, no, you're thinking of Pokemon.

No, seriously. There was a version of Pokemon that induced seizures.