Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can You Say Disaster?

This weekend Curt stopped at the bike store and bought a bunch of little gadgets to outfit my bike. When he was done installing it all, I had two water bottle holders, a little bag with a spare tire and patch kit, a pump that attaches to the bike frame and some gloves that so perfectly matched my bike that I look like Miss Matchy Matcherson when I ride it. Too bad I don’t know how to use any of the new gadgets…

My kids are attending Vacation Bible School (VBS) all week from 9 to 11:30 a.m., this morning a bike ride was on the agenda while they were gone. I’m running a half-marathon on Saturday and didn’t want to over-do it this week so I figured a short bike ride would be a great choice for this beautiful day. Put on all my matching gear, filled my water bottles, clipped into my pedals that I’m mastering a bit better and set out fairly confidently. I realized around mile two that I forgot to pack my cell phone and some energy food but since I wasn’t planning on riding more than 15 miles and had two hours to do it, I figured neither of those things would be a factor. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The first left-hand turn I had to make wigged me out so I stopped in the bike lane to plot my course of action. I forgot that I was clipped in still with one shoe and tipped right over into the dry grass. I dusted myself off, successfully navigated the left turn and took off. I was really in the zone and very much enjoying my ride. All the little things that make cycling tricky for a non-mechanically minded person were starting to make sense to me. I’m figuring out gearing for flats and for hills, can clip in and out of my pedals faster than a snail, and overall am starting to get the hang of cycling.

I came to a stop at an intersection and turned left to mimic a ride Curt and I had done together two weeks ago. One problem: I had already passed the intersection to turn left and was much further out on the road than I thought. So my left-hand turn added an unplanned ten-mile loop to my “short” bike ride. When I realized my mistake, I had under an hour to ride 15 miles home, get in the van, and retrieve my four kids plus one extra who spent the night last night. I also realized the reason why the first fifteen miles had been so pleasant – the wind was at my back. I turned into a gale force wind and promptly panicked. As I pedaled into the wind in the highest gear I could stand, I started listing off possible solutions.

1. Stop at a house and ask to use the phone or ask for a ride back into town. But would I answer the door to a complete stranger? Or give them a ride into town? No.

2. Hitch a ride? Then I thought through the safety issue of a single girl hitching a ride in the middle of back country and figured I’d rather be late and alive picking up my kids than the other alternatives.

My only option was to pedal as fast as I could and pray I got there without the staff at VBS calling the police. As I pedaled I felt my energy level start draining. Breakfast was hours ago and I knew my fuel source was about spent. I pedaled and prayed and walked the fine line between panic and laughter. What else can you do? It really is pretty funny, in retrospect, and these are such rookie errors to not bring a phone or extra food. DUH! I really should know better.

I have never been happier to see the “Welcome to Newberg” sign in my life. On my last bit of energy, I coasted down a steep hill and started to climb the last hill before our neighborhood. Shifted down to the lowest gear and apparently didn’t do it correctly because my chain came right off. I was clipped into both pedals and the next thing I knew I was a crumpled pile on the pavement. Lovely. At least I was going slow and the entrance to our neighborhood was in site. I ditched my brand new bike in the weed, took off those dumb cycling shoes with the spike and slippery bottom, grabbed the garage door opener and started running up the hill in my bike helmet and socks. The whole time I kept telling myself, “You’ll laugh about this later. It could be worse.” I dashed into the garage, grabbed my purse and some shoes and jumped into the van. I stopped to pick up my bike from the weeds and then drove like a mad woman to the church. I was ONLY twenty minutes late.

By the time I got there, all four of my kids and Alden had been gathered from their respective classes and herded into the room where the delinquent mothers could pick up their kids. Thankfully the leaders were incredibly gracious and I was so relieved the kids were okay that I forgot to be embarrassed I was still wearing my very tight and very padded bike shorts in a church.

It begs the question why I’m so darn determined to be a triathlete when nine months ago I couldn’t swim or ride a bike. But I guess life is about taking risks and being willing to make a fool of yourself to try new things. My ride might have been a disaster but I’m sure you’ll see me on my pretty blue bike again some time soon!

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