Today I rode a bike.
Riding a road bike is ‘way more difficult than it looks. First of all, they have a zillion speeds now (not 10 like when you were a hot-shot teenager). The brake handle on each side controls gear changes (you move it sideways for gear change and squeeze for stopping) and there is a little gear changer attached to each handle — so you move the handle one way to move up in gears and the gear changer to move down in gears. Last time I was on a road bike the gear change mechanism was on the frame.
Second of all, really cool riders (and I’m nothing if not cool, right) clip into the pedals. Meaning there is a clamp thing on the pedal and a hook thing on the sole of your shoe and they mate together. You have to twist and yank to get your foot off the pedal to stop.
I’ve been wearing bike shoes and clipping in to the pedals on spin (indoor) bikes for a couple of years. Clipping in isn’t the be all and end all that bike nerds would have you believe. But I get that there are benefits.
And of course I was wearing a helmet — not all that ugly — and very cute cycling gloves. And I have a bag of fix-it stuff attached under the seat. (I have no idea what’s in the bag, it was a gift.)
Today I rode around the Rose Bowl 3 times (9 miles) and practiced stopping in a parking lot. (Remembrances of my dad teaching me to drive a stick shift in the Covina HS parking lot.) At one point I had to ride up a hill (panting and downshifting) and then ride down a hill (scary fast) and obey a stop sign at the bottom. My fingers hurt from squeezing the brakes downhill.
At one point we were on flat road riding 12 mph. Which made me smile. 60 miles would take 5 hours and I was puffing doing 1/4 mile at that speed. And an Ironman bike section would take — I cannot even figure out it (calculator help: 9.3 hours).
12 miles an hour on the flat wasn’t scary. Going downhill fast was scary. Actually, doing the long, gentle downhill side of the Rose Bowl was pretty fast at times.
At one point the coach had me corner. Telling me to extend my outside leg and push against that outside pedal – explaining how to shift one’s weight for cornering. Really, you have to tell people how to corner? Don’t they drive?
I rode standing up,sitting down, hands on top of the handle bars, clipped, unclipped, hands at the corners of the handle bars, hands uneven on the handle bars, etc. I rode along VERY slowly, showing my ability to balance and stop. I started and stopped, clipped and unclipped. Stopped some more.
From a coaching point of view, the coach was telling me to pedal faster. Pointing out how quickly people riding by us (operative word “by”) were pedaling.
And for my final move, I fell over, clipped into the bike, going — I kid you not — ZERO miles an hour. The fall was very slow, like slow motion, and I hit the pavement going about 0.5’/second. I got dirty, but nothing else.
Generally I liked it. My butt did not hurt. (Stay tuned for tomorrow.) I was not overly scared, I didn’t think. And I didn’t totally suck for a beginner (although I’m not sure the coach would be coaching long if he said told people they suck at the sport they’re trying). At this moment, I don’t feel compelled to run out and buy my own bike. But I thought about it during the riding.