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…….