Friday, April 4, 2008
It's Like Riding a Bike . . .
People always use the expression "It's like riding a bike" to describe way too many things that, once you have the skill/experience, you should be able to revisit the experience at any time in your life. People use this expression for things like picking a lock, finding that little, out-of-the-way Italian restaurant you once at dinner at just off 95 in Providence, Rhode Island or hooking up with a college girl on $0.50 pitcher night (seriously, key board makers . . . bring back the cents-sign).
Well, I've got some sad and hard news for most of you . . . I've never picked a lock, I have NO idea where that restaurant was (it was DELICIOUS though) and I wasn't exactly a lothario in college (I DID love half-dollar pitcher night though - WORD). Even more crusing for me . . . riding a bike is not "like riding a bike" either.
As loyal readers will know - I have been obsessed with getting a bike for about six months now and my in-laws, God love 'em, GAVE me a bike for an Easter/surgaversary present.
Well, two weeks later, I'm wholy convinced that either a) I never KNEW how to ride a bike or b) the old cliche is wrong.
Here are just a FEW of the things I am learning about riding a bike . . .
1 - When riding down a hill, even a small one, don't jam on the front wheel brake. You will find the rear wheel leaving the ground and your heart rate racing as you imagine your head hitting the road in front of you. Slow pressure on the back brake is the way to go. You're welcome.
2 - Don't try to look "cool" when you are 31 years old and riding your bike around College Hill park on a Tuesday evening wearing a long sleeve t-shirt, elastic banded (waist and ankle) sweat pants and a look of sheer terror on your face. You don't look cool and those teen agers pointing and laughing at you while hanging out and emoting know it, hurtful as they are.
3 - Just because you have 18 speeds on your bike does not mean you should try to use more than one of them on a largely flat path. Point of order - until you understand what each speed "means" or "does," don't shift the gears at all. Just focus on trying to stay up on the wheels for now.
4 - Pedaling is, in fact, excercise . . . on a secured bike at the gym or on the "mean streets" of Wichita - expect some wheezing, muscle aches and sweating by 20 minutes in either way.
5 - Water bottle holders on bikes are absurd. There is NO way you can convince me that anyone is ever comfortable enough on their bike to take one hand off the handlebars long enough to sip some water anyway. I mean NO one, right?! Right?! Or are you telling me there is a chance I might eventually have said courage?
6 - The Americans with Disabilities Act is a friend to ALL of us. When I was a kid, I would "jump" on and off curbs with the greatest of ease. Never even thought that the four inch drop might through off my internal gyroscope, to be honest. In the last few weeks, however, I find even the slow rise and fall of sidewalk "ramps" on the corner to be scary, scary, scary.
7 - Practice makes perfect. I've been out a large handful of times on my bike and I must say it DOES get easier. My first three "attempts" at riding never left my driveway/back lawn . . . the most recent one took me across Douglas Ave. to the "north" side of College Hill. Next time, I am biking all the way to Paris with Lance Armstrong . . . or not.