I married a biker: a road biker, a mountain biker, and a motorcycle rider. I am none of these. I run. I taught myself to ride a bike at ten years old and have only been on one a handful of times in between then and when I got married.
Matt enjoys flying down hills, popping wheelies, riding over roots, and comes home splattered with mud. I enjoy keeping my feet firmly on the ground and fancy myself adventuresome if I brave a run in the rain. Matt has designed his very own full suspension mountain bike and is having it custom made. I want to design a couch to sit on while he bikes.
In an attempt to bond with my husband I asked him for a mountain bike. He built me up a bike with such eagerness you would have thought he had won the lottery. Our one mountain biking trip together resulted in about 20 feet worth of riding and a long string of profanity on my part. That was almost a decade ago and since then my mountain bike has been sitting in my garage on a stationary bike trainer where I can pretend to exercise.
A few months ago I started taking a spin class at my gym. I really enjoy it. I especially like the spin/strength class where they add arm weights. It’s a killer but the teacher stays on beat with the music (which makes all the difference for me). After the first few classes my backside was sufficiently used to sitting on a bike saddle and for the first time in almost ten years I started to entertain the idea of taking my poor lonely bike outside. I even thought about mountain biking again. After all, I’m not that timid and afraid little girl anymore, surely I could do it this time, right?
Matt wasn’t so sure. “I’m not taking you until you are comfortable enough on a bike to handle it. Crawl before you walk.” So it was in this state of mind that Matt suggested that we go for a bike ride. I put on my fancy spin class bike shoes and we were off. I road about three feet up our neighbor’s steep driveway before I crashed because I couldn’t unlock my shoes from my peddles.
I walked the ten feet back to my house, sporting a big (and painful) scrape on my elbow (later that day I threw the frisbee too far and Matt tripped and fell on some rocks in our front yard, so we both ended up bloody and bruised that day).
Yesterday he wanted to try again. He wisely put regular pedals on my bike and I wisely walked my bike up our neighbor’s driveway.
I spent the next hour dodging cicadas, wobbling over tiny pebbles, and trying to shift in to the right gear. I can ride a bike, but there a reason why I like my rides to be on flat, smooth, wide, paved pathways… and yesterday I remembered why. I was ALL over the place. Within 10 minutes my shoulders were so tight they were aching and every once in a while (ok, every time I had to do anything other than ride over a smooth and straight surface) I would find my tongue hanging out the side of my mouth like a dog.
Poor Matt. All he wanted to do was share his love of biking with his wife and there I was, looking like a cartoon character, pedaling so fast you couldn’t see my legs because I was in the wrong gear and eyes bugging out every time there was a break in the sidewalk.
“Ok Courtney, we’re heading up hill soon, shift down in to a lower gear”
“AGH! It’s making that noise again!”
“It’s ok, just shift your front gear with your left hand… your other left hand.”
Eventually I just got off and walked it up the hill because the sidewalk was too narrow, the street was too busy. By the time I caught up with Matt he was a little panicked himself, “What happened!? Are you OK?”
“I’m fine. Just a weenie.”
He would say things like, “now just fly down this hill!” and I would say things like, “No.”
He would turn to grin at me and would see my brow furrowed in concentration and my tongue sticking out.
At least this time there was no profanity. Baby steps, right?