I am more than a tiny bit scared of riding my bike. This wasn’t a huge problem as a kid. But as a triathlete – it sort of sucks. How do you conquer a fear? Head on, friends. So, I ride. I ride in my living room on a bike trainer so that I can feel I have a mastery of my bike’s gears and my stupid (albeit useful) clipped in bike shoes. I ride in groups so that I can learn more about how to ride safely on the road. I ride with friends so that I can remember that going for a bike ride used to be something I did for fun. And I ride in spin classes so that I can build muscles that will help me drag my ass up hills.
But until today I have not ridden alone. There are a million reasons not to ride alone. It’s not crazy to not ride by yourself. But as a mostly stay at home mom I really want to train as much as I can during the week when the kids are in school. Unfortunately that is when my bike riding sidekicks are at work. A friend that is sidelined with an injury mentioned that instead of joining me for our Thursday morning ride she’d be happy to have my back if I wanted to just go ahead and ride. Mid morning on our almost empty country roads seemed like a perfect time to give it a go solo.
I wrote her phone number on an index card, put it in my shirt pocket and sent her a quick note that I was leaving before I chickened out.
The first mile is uphill. I wasn’t particularly creeped out. I was still so close to my house and going back and forth between being freezing and exhausted. I hadn’t any time to freak out. A few miles later I found my groove. I stopped obsessing over every single noise that my bike made and started thinking that maybe I could stay over 16 mph on average in spite of the three fairly decent hills on my route. I might even do a second loop. By the fifth mile I passed the turn to Emily’s school and giggled at a bit at our plans to stop and eat lunch with the kids. Nothing is more absurd than a person in head to toe spandex and bike shoes. We just need to wait until it is warm enough to wear our matching tri-kits to go for maximum ridiculousness.
By the time I was just about two miles from home I had decided to stick with the single loop and call it a win. Why tempt fate? I was content. I was warm. I could run when I got home and go out and do this again soon. I was a person that could ride her bike alone if need be. I didn’t die!
As I was headed up the last big hill about a mile from my house a car slowed behind me. There is no shoulder on this road (only a steep ditch) and I was riding the white line. I couldn’t very well move over and I appreciated the driver behind me just taking his time. I assume that the honking by the truck marked with a local HVAC company (that I shall not name only because it may very well have been an employee of this small company and not the owner so I am hard pressed to put you on blast) was to alert other drivers of my presence. Surely you didn’t mean that the car that was giving me a little space should speed around me on this hill where they can’t see oncoming traffic. Right? I did check out your website when I got home, local HVAC company… all those stock photo images of happy families – yep. You surely value the life of a mother of two so very much! Thanks for honking as if to say “Hey, Drivers! Take care near this cyclist!!” Jerk.
I shook it off. I pulled over at the soonest available moment and let the truck pass by me. With less than half a mile before I was home I was determined to end this maiden voyage with a smile on my face. There’s a killer downhill just before I turn into my neighborhood. I enjoyed it. I was warm (finally) and I was unafraid. I was a person that rides her bike!
I slowed down before I turned onto my street (because I am still not a person that is unafraid of the slightest bit of gravel) when a huge Dodge Ram sped around me, window rolled down, gave me the one finger salute and yelled “Get off the road, Bitch!!”
My eyes stung like I had been slapped. I have been scared of falling. I have read race reports where experienced cyclists get injured. I am always fearful of cars. Recovery after an accident with a car could take months. But it never dawned on me to be afraid of being yelled at by some asshole in a giant truck (and yes, I realize that name calling is juvenile and two wrongs don’t make a right but this guy was an asshole!!) I could see my house from where I was located.
But I kept riding. I rode right past my street with tears in my eyes and made one more single mile loop in the neighborhood next to mine. Because I won’t let you ruin my good time Mister Big Truck. I am only sorry that you momentarily knocked the wind out of me and I was unable to return your salute!
So. You haven’t convinced me to get off the road, Mr Big Truck. Nor have you really even made me think that I am a bitch. I assure you that I have done far more egregious things than ride my bike on the same stretch of road that you were enjoying. As I rode that last mile I started to wonder. Would you have yelled in my face if I stopped my cart in the middle of the aisle at Costco? Because I do that sometimes. What if I walked in front of you at a softball game to chase my four year old? I am so super sorry I was in your space for a second, man. I guess that never happens to you, huh?
I like to give each bike ride an anthem. Riding without tunes is so weird to me so I sing in my head. Today’s quick ten mile ride goes out to Matthew Wilder – Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride…
I will be back soon with a race recap for Belews Lake Olympic Triathlon that was a duathlon (click for last year’s race recap if you like!). Quick summary: I nearly froze to death. The runs were fast and awesome and the bike was cold and lonely. Belews Lake theme song was an obvious choice! Love me some Eric Carmen: All By Myseeeelf…….
You are awesome. That is all.
I’m so sorry this happened to you. People can be such bullies anyway, and put them behind the wheel of a big truck, and they can turn into total assholes. What POS would do that to someone on two skinny little tires. Just horrible. You can put my name and number down, too, in case you ever need help.
We have the Ironman and several triathlons here on the Big Island. While yes, slowing down because theirs a huge @$$ line of bikers can be irritating, I always think of it this way:
1. It’s nice to check out so many well toned buns!
2. Folks riding are part of something huge. You folks train and train and train. It gets to a point where the time spent training is likening the actual event as a presentation at a job. I must let you do your job, same as I expect others to let me do mine.
Oh, and that turd needs a reckoning for sure!
Love that you braved the open road. In my land of narrow, windy New England roads and no shoulder and millions of cyclists (also horses, we have to slow down for horses…), we have all learned to share the road. Because will it really kill any of us to be thirty seconds later for wherever we’re headed in our big safe minivan (truck/SUV whatever)? Screw that stupid yeller. I only wish you could have saluted him appropriately. ;)
How I wish I’d had the chance!! In my small town so close to my house – there is SUCH a good chance that I would see the same guy again in the next few days at the gas station or something. :) And that would have been GRAND.