So, I have this bike. Actually, if you must know, I have two bikes. A “la-di-da” ladies Schwinn bike and a fancy-schmancy Fuji road bike.
I got the ladies bike on the same day I got my son his first big-boy bike. My “vision” was that we would ride around together and have grand adventures and other people would be all “Oh, look at how much fun those two have! She is the best Mom in the whole wide world!”
Right. That may have happened once. (The riding part, not the other people being impressed part….)
About a decade later I got the Fuji road bike. Not because I had extra money burning a hole in my pocket and/or an intense desire to actually ride a bike. Oh no, I got the road bike because I was head over heels over this guy who said that he didn’t really think our relationship had much of a future if I didn’t like to do the things he liked to do, one of which was biking. (He forgot to mention that our relationship didn’t have much of a future because he prefers MEN until much, much later…. but that is a different story…) And even though he was super intense in every aspect of his life, I somehow believed him when he said that he would understand that I hadn’t been on a bike in a super long time and I was going to be slower than him + nervous as hell.
Suffice it to say that I did not have a positive experience riding with Mr. Intense/Fake Heterosexual. I mean, the first block or two was fine — I was wobbly and super concerned that my tires were so thin/narrow/whatever, but I was making progress. Then the genius decided to take me out on a busy city street with loose gravel remaining from the winter. And he rode really far ahead of me. So far that it took him about a half an hour to realize that I wasn’t behind him any longer. Meanwhile I’m laying in the busy street tangled up in my bike (I knew those shoe clamps were a horrific accident waiting to happen….) cursing him and thanking God that I hadn’t been hit by a car (yet). Plus I was bleeding. And probably crying. Which made it all worse and more painful + super humiliating.
We tried to ride together a few more times. It was no fun for either of us. I was a basket-case and so worried about crashing that I think I actually willed myself to crash a few times. Plus I couldn’t let go of the idea that going on a bike ride was supposed to be pleasant and relaxing and he couldn’t let go of the idea that the only reason to do anything in life was to compete and be as extreme as possible and, ultimately, to win.
So, now I’ve had this Fuji bike for like 5 years but haven’t ridden it for at least 3 (or, ummm, 4.5) years. And I really do want to ride it but I’m SCARED. I haven’t “forgotten” how to ride a bike — I’ve forgotten what it feels like to feel confident riding a bike, so confident that you aren’t even really thinking “oh, look, I’m riding a bike….” you’re just riding it.
I blame part of this on the fact that I live in Colorado. People in Colorado don’t just “ride” their bikes…. As far as I can tell pleasant bike rides are, like, sooooo 1980. These days it seems to be all about the correct equipment, the lightest bikes, the longest/fastest rides, going up and down mountain passes (I’m not kidding, everyone here seems to want to do the “Triple Bypass” ride – up and over 3 mountain passes in one fucking day — I get a heart attack just thinking about it.) and riding at least 100 miles (a “century”, fyi….) So there’s that mentality to deal with. Then there is the fact that the limited number of people who aren’t obsessed with riding their bikes are pissed off at the people who are riding their bikes, and would rather not share the road with them. Which makes for a dangerous game of seeing who will get the right of way before someone gets killed. And it usually isn’t the asshole in the motorized vehicle who end up paralyzed or dead. You don’t just “ride a bike” around these parts, you fucking RIDE! and hope to live to tell the tale.
I also blame my lack of self-confidence re: riding a bike on the fact that the piece of machinery purporting to be a “bike” in my garage bears only a faint resemblance to the “bikes” I grew up riding.
I’m fucking confused by the bike. Yes, there are two wheels, that part looks familiar. Other than that, I’m lost….. It’s got like 72.5 “gears”, and lots of levers, brakes everywhere, clamps on the pedals (these scare me, a lot), skinny little tires, no turn signals (!!) and, of course, no streamers off the handlebars (or whatever those things that steer the bike are called these days….). And I’m supposed to know how to take care of this machinery? I don’t even know what I’m looking at. And I bought this tire care kit that I have no clue how to use. Basically, I’m totally intimidated by the bike. I’ve scouted out a few “get to know your bike” classes but I’m kind of afraid to show up and reveal the depth of my ignorance.
Then there is the question of proper bike riding attire.
It’s lycra people. All lycra, all the time. I don’t really have a problem with lycra, per se. I just prefer to wear it under the clothes other people are going to see me in….. And, let’s be honest, it doesn’t really let your cookie (or boy parts) breathe. I feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. My cookie prefers a little room, if you know what I mean. And she doesn’t like to sweat. Are there cups for girls? Maybe that is the answer? I’m going to look into that…. So, ok, you need lycra stuff, and a good sports bra, performance socks, fancy shoes, sunglasses and a helmet. Some women look good in helmets, I am not one of them. Fact.
I know it’s not supposed to be a fashion show. It just totally is, people, trust me.
I’m wondering if I have a point here?
OH, yes, I think I do…..
Riding a bike is not as simple as it used to be. So fuck all those “don’t be silly, you never forget how to ride a bike!” people. 🙂
p.s. thanks for all the writing encouragement. you guys are awesome, unless you’re constantly judging me, then you guys are assholes.
p.s.s. if you’re reading this and you’re thinking “silly, kim, i could take her bike riding in a non-scary, maybe even enjoyable environment and i would totally refrain from making fun of her!” let me know, i’m serious about wanting to get back on the bike….
5 responses to “Dear People Who Say You Can Never Forget How to Ride a Bike, Fuck You. Love, Kim.”
i used to be so intimidated by the shave-their-legs bicycle racer mentality guys/you haven’t really ridden unless you’ve competed in a pre-dawn peleton types. So, i made a good friend/my ex-husband actually take me out to a big huge uncompleted development and teach me how to ride, get in and out of the clippy pedals, turn corners, etc. Felt so proud of myself after that ride until I cam home, pulled in front of my house on the bike, and promptly forgot I was in the clips –tipped over uncermoniously in front of all my neighbors and gave myself a hideous bruise on my thigh. Second bike ride was with our mutual friend who thought nothing of taking me up Lookout Mountain. I almost expired and I know I cried. It started to thunder and lightning, he was far ahead, I was stuck in my clippy pedals, and I had a melt down….but then a very cute and nice and patient stranger came and helped me. There are kind, patient, funny, people that would love to take you out on your Fuji or your Fufu ladies bike. It is fun (or can be).
Oh my gosh, it’s a big thing getting back into bike riding! After I read this and pondered for a while, I realised I had too much to say to put into a comment, so I have written a simple how-I-make-it-work blog post:
And if you and I are ever in the same city, I will totally go for a ride with you 🙂
Love Meg x o
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Oh My Gosh! I love your style of writing. Your sarcastic humor speaks to my soul. Whatever you do don’t give up (on the writing or the bike.) LOL
Kim, this is the funniest post I ever read at 3:37am. I thank you for your wit. I am laughing so hard because this is me!!! I can’t ride my stupid bike yet either!! I have anxiety thinking about riding with friends tomorrow when I really need adult training wheels! Oh! And they don’t know!!! 😦