Off come the training wheels

This my first “real”  bike, which Mike got me for my birthday a couple of months ago.

This is me looking super cool putting my bike on top of my car.

Yes, I am using a step stool, which Mike assures me is totally not a dorky thing to do. He also gave me a crash course (poor choice of words) in tire changing, for the inevitable day I get a flat. I think his exact words were, “do you plan to learn how to change your own tire, or just be one of those girls who stands there looking pretty until someone helps her?” I plan to be one of those girls who learns how to change her own tire, and if someone stops to help me, well that’s ok too.

Before I got this bike, the only experience I had was riding a bike as a kid, and more recently, two years as an RPM instructor. RPM is indoor cycling, kind of like Spinning, but waaaaaayyyy cooler. Check out this website if you want to see what I mean. So while I was a pro at pretending to ride a bike, I started to think it might be fun to do the real thing. Plus, our new neighborhood in Colorado is linked to tons of great bike paths = no scary cars. After a few dozen trips to bike shops, during which time I managed to decide what I didn’t want, I finally found the right bike, a Trek Lexa SLX C. It’s pretty enough not to look like a man-bike, but it’s not too girlie. On a side note, why are so many bikes pink? PINK? Nothing against pink in the right place, but a pink bike for a grown woman–it might as well have sparkly streamers and a little bell.

Anyway, I putzed around on it by myself a few times, riding short distances on some local paths, just trying to get my confidence up. Fun and indeed, confidence-boosting because I didn’t fall off. Most of the time I think I kind of looked like this

photo from: seniorcitizenhumor.blogspot.com

Unless I started pushing myself a little harder, I was going to stall and end up bored and frustrated. In a fit of daring, I announced to Mike I was joining a weekly group ride.

For those who know me, even a little, you know I don’t really do “group”. I’m not into playing team sports and I’m not much of a joiner (with RPM being the exception, which shocked me, but what can I say, I drank the kool aid). I don’t ever feel very confident in my skills, at least until I’ve practiced enough on my own that I know I won’t be a total loser in front of others, and I don’t want to be the one holding everyone back. You know, that girl. Still, I decided the best way to get going was to face my fears and join in.

The day of the ride, I got up early so I would be ready in time, then proceeded to think of every excuse in the book for why I couldn’t go. As the time to leave got closer, I began to feel as though someone punched me in the gut. Pretty good excuse huh? I started doing my tension walk, which is basically just stalking around the house in a cloud of stress. I act like I’m doing stuff, but really I just can’t sit still.

By the time I finally pushed off for the ride, there was a group of about 15 people. Only three of us opted for the beginner ride–me, the ride leader and his friend. So really, it was just me who had no clue. That was fine by me. Private instruction, and only two witnesses if I did something colossally stupid. But I didn’t.

I’m not quite here yet,

photo from: texastailwind.wordpress.com

and I may never be (I’m kind of a wuss on the downhill stuff), but the guys gave me some valuable tips on steering, shifting and form, and I racked up my highest mileage yet. More importantly though, I forced myself to do something new, scary and uncomfortable, and I came out the other side really proud of myself. And also wondering why I let myself get so worked up about new things in the first place. I wish I could do away with that feeling of stress (and nausea) and just enjoy the experience. But then I might not feel so great when I’m done. Maybe it’s that feeling that signals something is worth doing in the first place. One of my current goals is to try more things outside of my comfort zone, and not worry so much about making a fool of myself. I could go around only doing things I don’t fear, but I think I’d miss out on a ton of life, because let’s face it, I think I’m more of a scaredy cat than most people.

Do you let yourself get all worked up about new things, or is it no big deal? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried that’s been super crazy for you. Did you love it? Hate it? Fall flat on your face?

Btw, the best thing about my ride was I got to see a dog, in a bike basket, wearing goggles. Looked kind of like this.

Photo: AFP/GETTY

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3 thoughts on “Off come the training wheels

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