Monday, February 11, 2008

Cha Cha and the first ride

You know how you have a great idea and get some encouragement to go for it; then when you do, you got a lot more than you bargained for in the process. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just takes you by surprise because you’d not been expecting it. That’s how my first ride with Cha Cha turned out. I got this itch to ride “for real” after I became a certified spinning instructor. It was an itch I never scratched till we had some money available and my husband told me I should take the plunge. That’s how I ended up with Cha Cha.
Cha Cha is my new and first “big girl serious” bike. She’s a black and pink Specialized Dolce road bike. Very beginner friendly but with some cool features and women specific stuff that makes her fab. You might wonder why I named her Cha Cha. I’ll give you the background on that before you hear about our ride. Growing up, my cousins, sister and I loved the movie Grease. My secret favorite character was Cha Cha. The trashy girl who rocked the hand jive with Danny. Remember her? I loved that character because she was a bawdy and unabashedly in your face character. Okay, mostly I loved her because she was trashy. Still, whatever. So, Cha Cha became my bikes’ name.
Friday evening I rode 25.3 miles on the bike shops’ indoor trainer. I was feeling confident and comfortable and somehow got bamboozled into the Saturday morning 25 mile ride. Sure, it would be the first time I’d ridden since I was a kid but I was confident I could do it. Sort of anyway. I got plenty of rest Friday evening and got up bright and early for the ride. Once I got all geared up and got myself to the shop, my nerves didn’t have too much of a chance to set in before we were outside ready to go.
I got off to a very shaky start. I instantly fell behind as I wobbled my way toward our intended route. Seriously, I wobbled like you wouldn’t believe. Immediately I wondered what the hell I’d gotten myself into. Then, I remembered how much I’d paid for the bike and inwardly groaned. I couldn’t give up this soon. I figured I go just a bit longer but truly, I was unable to imagine how I would accomplish all 25 miles. I continued to wobble and not stay near far enough right as I should. Plus, I was slow as all get out. I mean SLOW!!!
We got past the in-town stuff with all the stops and starts. Finally, I got less terrified by the vehicles passing and did a better job of keeping as far right as possible. Most folks gave a nice wide berth and just a few honked their horns as though we shouldn’t be on the road at all. Assholes. Still, I wobbled everytime I moved my hands to change gears. That was a lot because I changed gears more than most folks change their panties. Aerobically and muscularly as a whole, it wasn’t so taxing I couldn’t do it at a faster pace for the majority of the ride. The reason for my slowness? I was terrified I would be completely out of control. Shit, I felt pretty out of control already. The unstable feeling of the bike was so incredibly unnerving that my only goal became finishing without having a wreck or endangering anyone else. It was a big mental obstacle for me.
I was so focused on that goal I didn’t feel the cold wind or the steadily numbing crotch I was getting until about halfway through. I ignored it and it went away--mostly. The dog that ran out and gave chase got little notice from me. I was on autopilot and he would have to find another impromptu chew toy. I just needed to finish. Finally I was steady enough to change gears without wobbling, at least on the right hand side anyway. The left hand gears almost screwed me up twice so I’ll definitely have to work on changing those gears while on the trainer Monday. The owner of the shop and the other riders were great. The owner stayed with me the whole time and one of the more experienced riders followed me out of town to make sure I got out to the country road okay.
The thing I learned is that pedaling with very little resistance left me feeling out of control. As long as I kept the gears so I could “feel the road”, I felt more in control. Back at the shop after the ride, the shop owner demonstrated on a wheel how the faster you go, the harder it is to actually tump over. Conversely, the slower you go , the more likely you are to crash. That made me feel better. The downhills will still probably unnerve me a bit but I can get over it. If I don’t, my brake pads might need replacement in record time. I made my ride in 2 hours, 19 minutes, and 54 seconds.
I didn’t set the world on fire. I might have been the last person in but I finished. I finished when I wanted to cry and give up. That was about 1/4 of the way in but I didn't want to look like a big baby or spoil anyone else's ride. I kept going when I wanted to turn around. Okay, mostly I wasn’t able to turn around because the turn would have pretty sharp so I’m not sure how much that counts but I’m claiming it anyway. I rode. I rode when I felt like the bike was riding me. I kept riding until I felt like maybe, just maybe, I might be riding the bike myself just a little. By the time I reached the shop, my crotch was numb; my toes were cold and my legs were appropriately sore. The shop provided a bagel and cream cheese. Let me tell you, a bagel never tasted so good. I'm on tap to do it again Saturday. Here's to being new, being humbled and always learning even if you have to stuff down your fears. Later, Alicia