Getting on a bike and riding again is a great metaphor. You never forget how to ride a bike. It doesn’t mean it’s easy and that there isn’t just a little bit of fear that you may not be successful. All the trips, falls and faux pas in your life come roaring back to tell you that you can’t do it. I believed that. I figured I was too old to be able to bike again. Too uncoordinated. Too out of shape. Too, too!
Well, then there is Roy. Roy doesn’t seem to know a challenge he can’t take on. And he doesn’t see why I can’t attempt something as well. Roy isn’t held back by limiting beliefs. I’ve been seeing Roy for about three months. When I first met him, he was talking about jumping out of airplanes. He thought I should quit my current life, hike the Appalachian Trail and sign up for a triathlon in August. So when he started mentioning me buying a bike, that seemed like small potatoes compared to some of his other suggestions. Might as well start small, right? I bought a bike about a month ago. This is what I have learned from the experience.
Getting back on the bike again:
- Safety first. I have previously viewed helmets and bright yellow reflective shirts as optional. When my first husband and I owned a motorcycle in California in the late 80’s, wearing helmets was optional. If you weren’t required to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, why would I need to wear one on a bike? I knew I wouldn’t be able to pedal faster than five miles an hour. I know I never wore a helmet when I was riding my Schwinn with training wheels at age 6. Times have changed and regardless of whether or not there is a law requiring the wearing of a helmet, it just makes good sense. I’ve learned from running at 5 AM that cars can’t see folks without a reflective vest. I would never even think about driving without a seat belt. The odds of crashing are slim but my gray matter is more important than having hat hair. Safety is always first.
- Easy does it. I appreciate that the first time I rode the bike, Roy and I didn’t go much farther than two miles. Any time you are reintroducing yourself to something new or something new to you in the last few years, take it easy. I think most of us are guilty of getting a new gym membership and overdoing it the first time at the gym. I’ve done this with things like playing a guitar or knitting. My fingers get sore and I never want to pick it up again. Easing into it makes it more pleasurable and less daunting. Make sure you don’t overdo anything, so that you want to come back and do it again.
- Get a coach. I really appreciate that Roy rode beside me that first time out. I had not been on a twenty-seven-speed bike ever in my life. I really didn’t understand the point of twenty-seven speeds. I mean, wouldn’t three work just fine? That’s where a coach comes into play. Roy coached me through changing up the gears and down and where and when to change them. I messed up quite a few times like down shifting when I was supposed to up shift but having someone coach me through a really simple two-mile ride was super helpful. I can imagine that if I had tried this on my own, I probably would have stayed in one gear the entire ride and never have understood how all those gears really do make it so much easier, especially all the hills. Having a coach was invaluable. Don’t go it alone, find a coach.
- Buy the gear. So one two-mile trip on my new bike taught me that I was going to have saddle sores if I didn’t buy some bike shorts. What a difference bike shorts made! I can ride for ten miles now and be relatively saddle-sore-free. I also bought a cycling shirt so I can take my cell phone in case of emergency and added a water bottle holder to the bike frame. I have been admonished by cycling connoisseurs against a kick stand as it slows down your speed (although I don’t see me breaking any speed records). Buying the right gear makes it all much more enjoyable.
- Enjoy the ride. It’s amazing how much different things are on a bike instead of driving or walking in the same neighborhood. You notice different things. I would previously never have run if it was 80 degrees or warmer outside. It was too uncomfortable. On a bike? It’s a relief to get out in the breeze. If thunder clouds are rolling in, as it did this past week, there was still time to get in two more miles before it started to rain. On foot, I would have had to turn around the minute I saw dark clouds. In a car, you don’t even notice “a hill” or branch in the roadway. It’s a different perspective and you are alert to different things like cars and dogs being walked. It’s nice to have a change in perspective.
I had what seemed like a thousand reasons never to get on a bike again. I’m glad I had the support to go out and give it a try. What are you holding back on? What hobby do you need to revisit?