Thursday, July 29, 2010
Lunchtime Lessons

My co-workers and I sat around the board room table today and had lunch together; we ordered gourmet pizza, someone brought in slices of watermelon and then there were surprise raspberry tarts... all in honor of yours truly leaving her post at the office for the next three and a half months. Gosh I love working with a team of women. Of course, the main topic of conversation was my cycling trip and how preparations were going. One of my biggest challenges, I mentioned, was dealing with my pains in my butt. Despite having invested in padded bike shorts, there are some days when I crriiinge as I settle into my seat. And there's nothing I can do to help myself either - the pain is so internal it feels like I'm just sitting on my bones regardless of how much padding I have, natural or otherwise. The ladies suggested that I have another butter tart or two to help with the extra cushioning.

It's the end of the work day and there I am, riding away from the bike shop where I had just picked up my baby, who had been in to get dolled up (my bike's now been outfitted with fenders, a bike rack, panniers, and a kickstand - and holy crap I can no longer lift her with one hand anymore!). In addition to all this new gear on my bike, I had also decided it was finally time to try on my clip shoes. I had given myself enough time to get used to riding again, and now it was time to amp up my training/learning. I now had extra weight and I thought that I should really learn to wear and use the shoes I paid a dear $150 for.

The one time I tried them was in the store when I was getting fitted to my bike (rather, I suppose the bike was being fitted to *me* - there's nothing like having stuff customized to suit you perfectly) and clipping in and out was difficult. With the number of red lights and the amount of stopping I do when I'm riding in the city, I thought that it would be useless to have these shoes, but then again, I was going on a long distance trip... Anyway, I didn't think it could be that bad. I mean, I had talked to numerous people in good detail about using the shoes and I had recently rode behind someone for about an hour and watched as he constantly clipped in an out - it didn't look *that* hard. So I strapped myself into the shoes, rode slowly around the block and kept clipping in and out to get the hang of it. And like I thought - it wasn't *that* bad.

Perhaps it wasn't a very smart idea to combine learning two things at once - what it's like to ride with clip shoes AND weight/panniers. Because when I got to a stop light at the end of my spin around the block, I had managed to unclip my right foot (good!) which is all I've ever needed to stop at a light in the past, but (and here's where the 2-in-1 learning combo was a bad thing) I guess the weight in my panniers wasn't exactly even (not good) and my mind kind of freaked out because it's not used to having my left foot attached to the bike (also not good). So in a moment of split-second panic I tried to unclip my left foot and in doing so totally threw off my balance (bad) and simply toppled over (bad!) into the street (very bad!). I landed with a thud and clangs and the girl who had stopped in front of me spun around to find me lying in the middle of the road (very, very bad!) with my bike half on top of me. At least my left foot had come unclipped in the falling process (not bad at all).

A bit horrified, she asked, "Are you okay?!" I was fine. I picked myself up, got the bike upright again and all I had to say was, "New clip shoes." She understood and gave me some encouraging words as she pedaled away (so did the man who saw me fall as he was crossing the street - oh, public embarrassment). I was happy with one thing though: I laughed about it. I chuckled and smiled and really, genuinely laughed about my spill for at least another block. The idea of falling off a bike is definitely worse than the actual fall itself. Oh don't get me wrong, my left elbow and left ass cheek are sore as heck from taking all my weight onto the pavement, but I'm not seriously injured or anything. Let me say though, that I was super, SUPER lucky that there was no car in the lane next to me! I would have fallen right into the passenger side window and slid down the side of the car with my bike still attached to me (that would have been very, VERY bad).

The rest of my evening ride went along without incident. I practiced clipping and unclipping some more and I'm slowly getting the hang of it. I also noticed that I definitely move slower now that I've got a few extra kilos on me.

The funny thing was though, I fell again as I pulled up to my apartment building at the end of the evening. It was the same right foot free, mind wanting the left foot free too, sudden knee-jerk reaction and the slow-mo topple onto my left side. That's probably the worst part: when you KNOW you're about to fall, but there's absolutely nothing you can do about it except watch yourself. This time, no one asked if I was okay - not even the couple who were loading their car right beside me. And this time I'm only kind of okay - my elbow is going to bruise big time for sure, and my left ass cheek is red and really, really sore. Like, I'm ready to limp sore.

Maybe I should have taken the ladies advice at lunch and eaten a few more raspberry tarts.