The view looks much different from behind a pair of handlebars
The original working title for this column was supposed to be, “Things a 30-year-old can learn on the back of a bicycle.”
Unfortunately, here is a list of what this (nearly) 30-year-old has learned in that capacity thus far:
• Cement trucks don’t have to stop for red lights, it turns out.
• Spandex flatters no one (repeated: NO ONE).
• No one in an automobile has any sympathy for you.
And that’s really it.
Not that spiritual lessons are unavailable somewhere out on the riding trail, of course. It’s just kind of hard to look for them when you’re completely winded, in first gear going up a hill with two very annoyed motorists trying to decide if it’s safe to fly around you on their way down the highway.
About a year ago, my wife and I decided it might be better (read: safer) if we actually joined up with a group that rides weekly. If there’s a pack of bicycles, we’re much less likely to get pancaked, right?
And the answer is a resounding … kind of.
See, this group we joined up with is full of (mostly) serious folks, the kind that wear spandex, buy bicycles built specifically for pavement and put shoes on their feet that are attached to cleats (it’s for pedaling purposes, I’m told, although all I can see when I look at them is a burning pile of money).
In any case, they’re all in shape and fast, and they don’t always ride off and leave us (mostly out of pity) and they even give us cookies when we all make it back alive (so far, a 100 percent success rate). And, um … they have yet to chastise us for being so slow and anchoring the ride like two people encased in lead, riding lead bicycles … in mud.
Truth be told, it isn’t the uphills that cause me to lose the pack; in fact, going uphill — and this is a tad immodest, so sue me — I can almost keep up with the fast and in-shape people (if only because they’re all going about half-speed). Where I lose them, inevitably, is on the downhill side, when I’m just coasting (and attempting to suck air back into my lungs) and they all take off like they’ve been shot out of a great big cannon for bicycles.
Of course, they all stress (very politely) that an afternoon ride “isn’t a race” and that we’re all just out there to have fun, exercise and fellowship. So far I’ve accomplished one of those three things.
And we all get cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.
Maybe that’s the spiritual lesson we’ve been trying to find.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
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