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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Learning to Ride a Bike: This Time For Realsy

I know how to ride a bike.   Or so I thought.  Turns out, I only kinda knew.  If you can balance and pedal, you can ride a bike, scoot about town and maybe even teach a child how to some day.  But if you're really gonna bike, on trails or paths for long distances here's some crap to know:

1)  Gears are your new best friend.
      a) the low numbers are for uphill, high numbers for downhill, and middle for flat.
      b)  save yourself some ickyness and try to change gears at a point where you are pushing the peddles and moving yourself forward.  AKA:  Only make changes while fully engaged.  May apply to other life actions.
      c) the chain loops around the spiky.  If things go all shades of horrible and the chain falls off the round spiky (possibly due to ignoring advice b), put the gears in 1st and put the chain around the littlest round spiky.  Actually, not that hard but you will get dirty.
      BONUS TIP:  Don't wear white.  Biking is surprisingly messy.
2)  Wear sunglasses*

*to be expounded on in inspirational story

That's actually pretty much it for biking.  And now for an INSPIRATIONAL STORY...

To further along my Becoming of a Badass, I've taken up biking, as in, gone on two bike rides.  This has immediate benefits because I haven't biked in the pas, so I'm adding a whole new activity to my roster, automatically giving me huge badass points.  More auto points are gained from the maneuvering of the bike out of a tiny storage space and scraping up my legs, which sucks, but does make it look like I'm into mountain biking.  I get on the bike (this is day two of biking), slouch over the handle bars, a tip from my friends who said my good posture was making me look like a wimpy cruiser.  I'm coasting down big hills, not breaking cause I ain't afraid of speed.  I'm arm signaling my turns cause I love sharing the road.  A not:  One armed biking takes some skill.  Shake off that lapse in balances, slouch over handle bars, and keep on going.  

I've gone about 1/4 a mile when I notice my chain is making bad, clinking, dragging sounds.  I pull over, only catching my toe momentarily as I dismount, and start solving problems.  Hmmm.  Chain.  Rubbing against metal.  Flashback to my youth... Wasn't the chain always around the round poky thing?  Yes!  I put it on the poky thing.  Which is easy!  Swift remount with extra toe lift and I'm off.

Cruising over an unpaved road (elk refugee in Jackson), blow past a man walking his dog and can fully appreciate the speed a bike supplies.  Shifting gears up and down hills, I'm getting cocky and having a great time.  I experiment with weaving around tiny pot holes and even imitated the nine year old I saw yesterday jerking his handle bars up to hop a curb.  Sure, I'm only jumping dents in the read but it's fun.  I'm feeling the flush of enthusiasm that's so present in youth and so much harder to find as we age.

Around mile five, she appears.  Her tiny body is all sinewy muscle and spandex.  Her gait is steady, sure, and well, really f-ing fast.  How can she be running this fast five miles in?  Surely, she came from one of the turn offs.  This has to be her three mile sprint pace over a rushed lunch break.  Maybe her child is in need of medicine at home and her car is broken.  She is headed toward the hospital.  Only those desperate mother endorphins could explain her speed.  I nearly fall off my bike as I search for her behind me, looking to see if she turns off.  She must have cause I can't spot her, and then, suddenly, I see her neon pink body streaking down the road.  She's already so far away I can barely see her.  

I turn around, having come to the end of the path and, now, fear is in my heart.  She's out of eye sight.  Does this mean... Is she running faster then I'm biking?  That seems physically impossible, but I've been out skied by three year olds on leashes and don't doubt anything.  

I'm pumping my hear out for two miles before I catch up to this woman.  I fly past her, not out of a sense of pride, but because I can't stand her getting a good look at how obviously overheated and sweaty I am.  Just as my confidence is about to plummet to the pathetic depths of self pity, and while my mind is repeating, How slow of a biker do you have to be to almost be out run?  Just then, God sends a mercenary angel.  Or a kamikaze angel rather in the body of a big juicy bug, that hits my forehead and splatters.  

Now, I don't know the exact mathematic equation, although I imagine it's something like:  (biker's speed) times (bug's speed) divided by (juiciness of bug), that equates to smashing a bug on your face, but gosh darn it, it's never happened to me jogging.  I must have been going pretty fast.  If I hadn't been wearing sunglasses and the thing hit my eye, I definitely would have required medical assistance.  Just one of the risks us badasses have to take.  I wiped the goo off my forehead and smugly pedaled back home.  I love being extreme.  The risk is always worth the story.  

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