It all started out innocently enough. “Hey kids, let’s go ride our bikes to Pirate Park! I’ll let you play while I ride the hills nearby and check on you every 5 minutes!” Which turned into me badgering my children to do simple tasks like put on their shoes so we could go. It was sunny, and 65 degrees, and all they wanted to do was sit in our cave of a house and play video games.
Bikes loaded, helmets tossed in and we were headed out on our adventure. I’ve never actually taken my children on a bike ride outside of our neighborhood before, and a year ago, the idea was UNTHINKABLE.
First of all, the last new bike I had was purchased as a gift for me when I was 12. A very pretty silver Schwinn ten speed bike. 28 years later my own bike was a 20 year old hand me down from my husband – a giant tank of a mountain bike that I could barely lift into the back of the mini-van.
But for Christmas this year, for some unknown reason, my adorable and incredibly supportive husband offered me the chance to buy a bike. And not just any bike, a real live ROAD BIKE that I could use for Blue Lake Triathlon and Pacific Crest Triathlon, and also to just ride because I want to.
So, less than two weeks after the holidays but before the Christmas shopping credit card bill changed his mind, I bought my first bike, paid for yet again with someone else’s money (thank you husband). A beautiful Trek Madone 2.0. White with black. Light as a feather. Fast as a bullet. Well, if someone really fast that knows what they are doing is riding it!
I upgraded the pedals and now have those fancy shoes that clip in and out. I knew that those would eventually beat me, and yesterday was the day. I’ve been on the road on my bike plenty, and out a few times with the new shoes/pedals. Like death and taxes, there’s one more sure thing: when you wear those fancy little cycling shoes you’re eventually going to bite it. Yep, I sure did.
After twenty minutes of “are we there yets?” from the kids, we finally we there, at Pirate Park. The kids jumped off their bikes and onto the play set. I took off on one of my many hill climbs near the park, circling back to check in on the kids every 3-5 minutes. Mom of the Year right here.
On one such jaunt I found myself needing to turn around and head back up a beast of a hill so I took a little path out of the park, grossly underestimating how much gravity would work against me and how difficult it would be to unclip in a panic.
BOOM. Over I went, bike on top, sliding backwards down a hill, dog barking at my head, and foot finally unclipped upon impact. I was scratched up, and apologizing to the dog, for reasons I can’t explain.
I got up and took inventory of the most important thing: the bike. All was in order except the chain came off. Crap. I’ve never actually put one back on before. Must be easy enough, right?
I walked the bike back to the path and away from Cujo. I was starting to panic, as it looked like my every five minutes check in wasn’t going to happen. As I struggled to figure out the chain I worried my children would come looking for me or worse, that someone would TAKE THEM!
I called my Best Running Friend after about five minutes of working on the chain to see if she could rescue me. Yes, of course, she was very nearby. I hung up the phone and instantly realized I had the chain on the whole darn time.
Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees. I probably had the chain on the first try, but it was on the smaller gear, not the bigger gear which is what I was TRYING to do. (as you can tell I am NOT an experienced cyclist, just a wannabe runner crossing over to triathlons which requires riding a bike).
I called her back and said I had it fixed and would ride back to check in on my children. Neither of whom, as it turns out, was even remotely concerned that I missed the check in point. They had long since made friends of kids who had buckets and were happily filling them with water to create a giant stream in the sand pit. They waved hello, I told them of my plight, they shrugged and I kept riding.
As far as wipe outs go, this wasn’t an actual “crash” but it was enough to take my chain off, scratch me up and show me that I am more than capable of taking care of myself. As I rode several more hills after the “incident”, legs cramping inexplicably, sweating like crazy and hands and body covered in bike grease I smiled.
Worst bike ride to date, but it was also my best. I practiced (gasp) standing up on my bike while riding uphill. I practiced shifting. Clipping in and out (99% successfully). And how to put the chain back on my bike and dust myself off and keep going, greasy, bloody but no worse for the wear.
So now I have my worst swim, worst run and finally worst bike ride checked off my list. Those are posts for another day. I know that no matter what, come June 29th when I complete my first Olympic Triathlon at Pacific Crest in Sunriver, I can survive. Will I win? Heck no. That was never the point.
What I will do is swim, bike and run with the confidence to know that I can take care of myself. Just keep swimming, just keep riding and just keep running until I get to the end and see my beautiful family waiting for me. That’s all I need to think about from here on out.