I rode my bike today.
This should not be particularly noteworthy. I have registered for a triathlon, after all. It makes sense that I would prepare myself by regularly riding my bike, right? Especially because the second leg of the race comprises just under 80% of the miles covered. Alas – when was the last time I rode my bike before today? Uh. Some time in July. The evidence of my slackerdom was on my legs, as my triathlon tan had just about disappeared. Whoops!
Before I write about today’s ride, I’d like to reflect on the day she and I became one. On August 20, 2013, I handed a check to my fabulously patient bike shop manager. I asked my father to be a witness to the occasion (he’s an ordained minister and this union was KIND OF a big deal) and take pictures.
There she is; she likes food just like me
Money changes everything.
I had completed a duathlon on my bike from Christmas 1994 and envisioned myself getting fairly serious. I thought it prudent to purchase a road bike on which I could be more comfortable for longer distances. Just look at her. Ain’t she purty? I knew I could be proud to be seen with her. Red Rocket. That’s my girl, y’all. But, as with every relationship, nothing is perfect.
I tried using clipless pedals and it was JUST. NOT. WORKING. I would just stare at her; say hi, and keep walking inside. I had had a goal of using them by my next race; an Olympic distance duathlon, but I wasn’t comfortable, so I rode with flat pedals. We still had a good time. I completed my first triathlon with the flat pedals as well. I started to feel better. I was clipping in successfully by my second triathlon in January of 2014. My mother even said we looked good together! It’s nice when Mom approves, amirite?!
But that wasn’t enough.
Apparently, she wanted her seat higher. Red Rocket is into legs and butts, I guess. “But then I can’t touch the ground when I stop!” I protested. What Red Rocket wants, she gets, I’ve learned. It’s the only way to peace. Still, passive aggressive partner that I am, I had her adjusted in early April and didn’t ride her again until my first Olympic distance triathlon at the end of the month. Whoops! We made it through, though. I was observed smiling many times on the bike course. We then spent a bit more time together, preparing for my next race in May. I rode her even faster and more confidently.
Then – summer. As I dealt with plantar fasciitis and Beethoven and them, I started neglecting Red Rocket again. Every time I turn around there is something else she “needs.” “Give me air.” “Get a flat kit.” “Spend time with me.” You know how it is. However, if you read my blog, you know how I am too. I’d often rather ignore a problem than deal with it.
Oh, Red Rocket. You’re so…complicated. I take you as you are, but you want me to learn how to use a pump. You want me to wash you. You want me to learn how to fix you in case something happens. You want me to KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU. And to top it all off – you want me to spend time with you at regularly scheduled intervals? I don’t know if I can handle this.
So on Wednesday of this week, when I arrived home from work, I said “Sup, happy anniversary, we’ll go out this weekend.” She looked dusty and sad. I’m living my life, man. I just ordered dinner for myself and went to spin class. That’s how I roll. Cold as ice.
This morning, I woke up, thinking it was Friday. “Gotta work out before I go to…dammit. No work. Long ride today.” As I prepared to leave the house, I didn’t smile once. I usually crack jokes to myself in the morning and laugh. Not so today. In fact, the first time I smiled was when I was on the highway and I thought I saw flashing lights behind me. Though I wasn’t speeding, I thought, “Yes! I’m gonna get pulled over and miss my group! Then I can go home and go back to bed! Points on my license > riding my bike.” Kinda sick.
Driving record unscathed, I reached my destination. I saw my dedicated Coachie about to embark on a 5710472037 mile ride. She hugged me and I confessed that my relationship was estranged. She didn’t beat me up, but she probably was just saving her energy for her own ride. I met my group. “Great, my two favorite things; being vulnerable in front of others and riding my bike. It’s gonna be a fantastic day.”
Off we went. Important takeaways:
1. Red Rocket really likes when I pump her tires properly. My last ride in July felt like hell because they were at 40 and 60 PSI. I’ve since learned (again) how to properly inflate them. All by myself! This ride just felt like hell because it was. But it was made less hellish by
2. Humans. Other humans. Other human triathletes who have real problems like I do but still are working them out. As much as I would like to not need other people, I needed them today. Some were even encouraging, and most were inspiring. Who knew? Everyone? Shut up.
3. I need proper pedicures for long rides. I just do.
N.B. – “slurp” is the sound of my sucking it up. I’ve decided I want to survive the race.