About five years ago I decided to own a bike (which was a cheap fixie), which sadly I only used twice before it became a not so fancy dust collector. I was sure I was done with bicycles then.
Except, of course, I wasn’t. My fitness goals and my grueling work schedule started to collide and, to make a long story short, I bought a spinning class bike which signaled a very good friend of mine who was looking for a road ride partner that I was getting close to be the answer to her prayers to the spandex-two-wheeled-god-up-above.
So, alas, I ended up buying a road bike which I found at Bikezone, a Local Bike Shop (LBS) run by Daniel Marmolejo, owner, salesperson, bike enthusiast and nice man extraordinaire. The bike was, you know the kind, a second hand one which still looked good and seemed we could get along without upsetting my financial situation. Thus, the Trek One came into my life.
After the -mandatory- Instagram post featuring my new blue, gray and black friend I received two invites to ride out. To say I was dead against it would be an overstatement but also would saying that I jumped at the idea.
The first invite did not yield a ride, nor did the second one. But as I was telling all of this to the guy that sold me my clipless pedals and shoes it dawned on me that I had committed quite the indiscretion… because I had set the tone for another invitation and sure enough, he did invite me to ride… at one of the busiest roads (the 30-ish kms highway that connects my city to the nearest beach) with folks that had been riding for quite some time. Not precisely the first ride a newbie has in mind.
So I woke up at 5am to arrive at the meeting point. Almost forgot my water bottle. Completely forgot to eat something in advance. So I went there with the mere strength of fasted belly and an anxiety attack… or two or three consecutive ones over every detail involved.
The sportive was small, about 5 people strong. But it was not so much a sportive as a “people that park together before riding out” kind of deal. Guy who invited me rode with me for about ten minutes giving me good advice as we went, but soon I got tired and did nothing but hold him back, and you know that’s no good, for he may be a nice guy and tried and succeeded getting me out on the road but he was also there to enjoy HIS ride.
Did I mention that I bought two sets of back lights, a front light and a helmet with a back light too. I carried my cellphone to record my training on a bike specific app, had my trusted Garmin Vivosmart HR at my wrist, and my Sigma Bike Computer on my bike. Out of all that list, guess how many I remembered to turn on. That’s right, ZERO.
But back to the story, I was further down the road quickly loosing strenght, cadence and a road companion. Luckily I found an angel in a white Specialized bike. She was doing pretty much the same speed I was, had a truck keeping guard in the back, so I rode up to her and asked if I could tag along for a while, explaining it was my first ride ever. She took pity on me and obliged, we chatted a little bit, she explained some bike stuff to me, told me about her trainer, her training and a little bit about her, an all around nice experience.
My hand were numb by this point, though. My legs were hurting and I knew that every stroke I took up the road would have to be duplicated in order for me to get back. So I thanked her for the opportunity, the company and the good time and started heading back… alone… on a busy road… tired… afraid… but still pedaling.
The bad thing of going up a road having a good time is that you loose track of time and distance. I was way, way farther than I thought and that made the ride back more of a mental effort than a physical one. Had to stop briefly at some point because I got lost from using the highway exits to not go up traffic ramps, and at that point I made a wonderful unclipping, braking and came to a marvelous stop.
But when it came time to take the final exit towards the place I left my car at, traffic was already heavy and realized that it would be heavier precisely at the point I had to cross. So at barely 5 km/hr I decided to stop in a rather nervous state provoked by the overwhelming traffic. I unclipped my left foot. Hit the brakes. Came to a stop. Tried to lower, as I had always done before clipless, to put my right foot down… which was still clipped in and down (or rather sideways, but still down) I went.
I’ve heard stories about pilots getting showered in oil after their first solo flight. My whole right side was covered in grit, dust, mud (you get the idea) and pain and some reddish substance confirmed I had obtained my first battle wound.
My body got up but my Ego refused to leave the ground as it was rush hour and lots of people were waiting for buses and other means of transportation, and then of course lots of people were driving by. I sensed a viral video of me going down sideways and social media death as an ominous and impending future.
To make matters worse my bike chain got loose and I had to figure out then and there how to put it back on by myself, which I did. Got back up on the bike, tried to cross, traffic frightened me again, tried to put my two feet back on the ground but again unclipped my left, kept my right clipped and ready to move, while my unconscious mind said “you’re kidding, you always put down your right foot first” and, yes, sideways and down I went again.
Finally I crossed the road. “Why did the newbie crossed the road” I asked myself “To stop going sideways and down” I replied to myself.
A few meters ahead I could finally see my car. It would be over soon. If only I could unclip, brake and stop without falling. Surely it could be done. I could summon all the force of my mind, I could concentrate, focus, be one with the moment. If only I could, but I couldn’t and my first ride concluded with yet another fall, this time not on tarmac but on gravel, just to spice things up a bit.
Came home with a scraped elbow and the outside of my lower leg. Got in the shower, cleaned the wound and put some antiseptic to it, before going out to the pharmacy to buy gauze, tape, some iodine and a pain relief cream -just for good measure.
Got my bike to the shop for a check-up, she was not harmed and looks beautiful as ever. I dragged my scrapped ego and body to work, and decided to start writing about my cycling adventures.
And that’s all for today.