Things that are like riding a bike:
– Getting up close and personal with concrete.
– Frightening innocent drivers by unintentionally threatening to veer into motor traffic while trying desperately to remember how to clip your cleats in and fumbling with the gears to make the pedals go easier.
– Taking a stone mallet to your bum, producing bruising and soreness in places that you forgot existed.
Things that are not like riding a bike:
– Actually riding a bicycle for the first time in years.
Yeah. Not buying the old adage. At all.
Before I get in to today’s inglorious return to the world of recreational cycling, let me tell you a little story about a bicycle. I promise to keep it short.
I was 11 years old and learning to ride my first ten-speed. My route was pretty boring, tooling around the mile-or-so radius deemed by my parents as acceptable adventuring territory. I was minding my own business when a pickup truck, which happened to have some sort of sharp trailer hitch thingy sticking out from its back bumper, suddenly sprung from a nearby driveway and brutally attacked me!
This is where you say: OMG! You got hit by a car?
And I have to reply: Well, if you want to get technical about it, the car was parked. And I kind of didn’t see it because I was busy messing with my gears and stuff. But seriously – it came out of NO WHERE.
Because I was a tough little cookie, I shrugged, got back on my bike, and rode home. With blood streaming down my leg and chunks of muscle protruding from my knee. Or, if you want to get technical about it, I somehow didn’t notice any of that at the scene of the crime and remained unaware of the fact that I’d acquired a pretty serious injury until I got home. (Just call me Captian Oblivious.)
I now have a pretty disgusting scar on my right knee. The gouge went down through the muscle and there were 40+ stitches in all.
And I didn’t ride a bike again for years.
(Although a pleasant side effect of my little accident was that I was couch-ridden for a week and my parents rented me a Nintendo. I had never been allowed to have a Nintendo before and, a couple of years after everyone else, I finally got my Mario on and saved the Princess. Or, if you want to get technical about it, I finally made it through the stupid dungeon level but definitely never got close to actually beating the game.)
Cycling and I have a tense history, which is probably why I was a little nervous to head out on a ride today. And, to be honest? It was a little rough.
Coming out of my apartment building, I did a few circles around the block to get re-accustomed to the machine. Holy crap, there was a lot of stuff going on. Clipping my shoes in and out of the pedals and getting the shifting right and holy crap my Cat Eye isn’t working and AHHHH….this is so much more complicated than running.
I finally got comfortable enough to attempt an actual ride. I negotiated side streets until I got down to a stretch of the Greenway that I’d run on a few times and which I remembered being more or less appropriate for a road bike.
After steering myself on to the path, I relaxed a bit. Hey this is kind of nice! I can get some good speed going, there are no cars to worry about, the leaves are turning and this is just gorgeous and –
OH SHIT. WASHOUT.
OH SHIT I HAVE TO UNCLIP!
I managed to get one foot out before falling over rather pathetically. There was a patch of roughness on the path that would have been totally negotiable if I’d been expecting it, or if it hadn’t been concealed by fallen leaves. So less than three miles in to my re-inauguration to cycling, I fell. Not a bad fall – my hand is a little scraped up and I’ll probably have a bruise on my thigh – but still. Pretty demoralizing.
After that I headed back to the road and terrorized motorists with my somewhat erratic pedaling, especially coming out of stoplights. I need to practice biking a lot more before I’m comfortable doing on a busy road. I may try to find a group or something, because I really have no idea where to go in Raleigh to accomplish this. I live in a busy downtown area; I don’t exactly have empty roads at my disposal.
So why am I even bothering with all of this? Because…clearly, cycling is not my forte?
Because I managed to make my right calf and Achilles (the same one that I nursed a bit this summer) rather angry on the dance floor at last weekend’s wedding. I’ve been having a lot of tightness there lately, and bouncing around like a jumping bean for several hours on Saturday night (apparently this is now my signature dance move?) was not what the doctor ordered. I could barely walk on Sunday morning!
Things are feeling a lot better today, but I still felt like taking an extra day of cross-training would be a good plan. And biking outside, no matter how scary, sounded better than the elliptical.
Being on the injured list for a bit isn’t a horrible thing if it forces you out of your comfort zone a bit, right? And honestly, I had SO MUCH FUN this weekend that if I’m nursing a mild injury for a few days, so be it. Totally worth it. (Oh, and also, having chatted with several of you this weekend who apparently read but don’t comment – consider this your personal invitation. No more lurking!)
Today’s EAT: While laying in our hotel bed on Sunday morning, feeling generally sorry for myself, my injured leg, and the considerable quantity of champagne I’d consumed the night before (which was still percolating in my stomach), I flipped on the Food Network and saw someone frying ham. Like – cheap, lunch-meat ham.
So I tossed some ham in a pan as part of tonight’s big-ass salad:
BAS components: greens, ham, sliced Medjool dates, caramelized shallots, pine nuts and a bit of grated Parmesan. I caramelized the shallots in a pan with a bit of butter, then removed them and used the same pan to cook the ham and the dates together. The dates got wonderfully soft and tender and imparted a sugary sweetness to the ham, which itself crisped up a bit and tasted a lot more like bacon than plain old ham (WIN).
Today’s DRINK: Last week, we had irony here in the wine section on EDR. This week, it’s:
I saw this Ambiguity white table wine at Target and couldn’t resist! It was only $9, and expectations were low, but it’s actually not that bad. Very dry and fruity – like drinking a tart Granny Smith apple. One glass was kind of enough, because of the over-the-top fruity tartness, but the it was an enjoyable glass!
Today’s RUN: Cross training on the bike to the tune of 50 minutes. My Cat Eye is apparently battery-dead and/or broken, so I have no idea how far I went. My goal is to get my cross-training workouts on the bike, when I occasionally do them, to the 30-40 mile level (which would be closer to two hours – biking is rather inefficient relative to running, eh?) I am pretty sure I can physically handle that; the bigger challenge is finding a good route!
Today’s QUESTION: Have you ever had stitches – or broken a bone? My bike wreck at age 11 is definitely the biggest trauma I’ve ever had! I am pretty lucky to have never broken a bone, considering how clumsy I can be. 🙂