Cycling Downhill

cycling Thursday, 27 February 2014

I’ve been riding a road bike (what regular humans would call “a 10-speed bike”, a vastly less technical version of the kind of bike Lance Armstrong rode) for a month or so.  I’ve probably been on 6 or 7 rides.

I wear a helmet and very cool riding gloves.  I have a cycling jersey.  I have cycling pants (built-in padding in the butt and crotch to protect delicate butt parts from the hard seat).  I wear special bicycle riding shoes that “clip” (lock)  into the pedals.  (Gratuitous sentence to prove I am super hip.)

I fall over almost every time I ride.  Not exactly every time I stop.  But usually once a ride while stopped.  While I’m laying on the ground, someone on a bike almost always rides by and asks “are you alright?”  I always say “Yes.  Just a beginner.”

The last two times I’ve gotten on the bike I have been surprized at how much more comfortable I am on the bike.  Everything about it it vastly easier — including shifting gears — that it was a month ago.

Today I went for a bike ride that included uphill and downhill.  Riding uphill can be hard work.  Riding downhill can be crazy scary.

Today I was going down hill at god knows how many miles an hour — maybe 15 or faster — almost outside myself thinking “is this really fun?  Do I need to be doing this?”  I was (literally) locked onto a tool that weighs about 15 pounds (it’s made of carbon fiber) on wheels maybe 1″ wide.  (I’m sure that’s wider than they really are).  Wondering if it was fun.  The ratio of scared to fun was pretty high in the wrong direction.

I get, after just this little time, how wondrously fun this cycling thing can be. Almost every ride is lovely.  And I totally get the value of being able to go up and down hills (like if you were touring the country side in, say, Italy, where I will be in November).  And if you’re going to do that, there are going to be hills up and down.

The explanation I got today is that you have to be able to go fast downhill (don’t scream, don’t ride the brakes) so that you don’t get dropped from group rides for slowing down/holding up the group.  Humm.  Maybe that’s the wrong group?

I am hopeful that in another month it won’t be so scary.

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