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March 09, 2002: Two-wheeling

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This morning we got up early and hopped on our bikes for a 'quick' ride to Starbucks (which I now know is about a six-mile round trip). This time it was much less painful than the last time we attempted it - for one thing my butt isn't the least bit sore, and neither are my legs. This improvement probably has something to do with the fact that we've gone for a few rides in the past week, and my out-of-shape body is starting to get used to this whole concept of exercise again.

The best part is that I'm actually enjoying riding. Like good little yuppy nerds, we got all the accessories - helments (I had to get a kid's helmet. Apparently I have a small head. Go figure), odometers and bike lights. I should point out that an odometer is a marvelous little gadget for the exercise-reluctant. Instead of just getting onto the bike and huffing and puffing along without any clue how far or fast I'm going, this way I can watch those little numbers on the odometer. It's a great incentive, actually. I can keep my eye on it and tell myself 'only 2 miles til we get to go home. Only 1 mile now til I can go home' and so on.

I'm not exactly up to Secra's level, but it's early yet. I figure in another week or so I might actually be able to do more than 5 miles at a stretch without gasping for breath (and this is at the oh-so-speedy pace of around 10 miles per hour. Yes, I admit it. I'm actually part turtle). In a month or so, assuming the weather holds, we might even attempt a trip down the back roads to the next town (probably about 20 miles away). I realize this is being extremely optimistic here, and that unless I manage to get just a tad speedier or this sort of thing will end up taking us all day, but I'm trying to think positive here.

Richard's noted that we'll need to get used to hills at some point before we cart our bikes off to Ireland. I admit that the thought of many hills fills me with a bit of trepidation. It's not the hills themselves that's the problem however. It's the fact that in order to tackle hills, I'm going to have to finally figure out how to handle changing gears on a regular basis.

I've never really had to learn how to do the gear-changing thing. I tried a few times, but it was never successful, and I had too many instances of bike chains coming off the track as a result. The most exciting of those was back in college when I felt the chain come off and looked down for just a moment. Unfortunately, while doing so, I managed to drift off course just enough so that when I looked back up again, it was to see the parked car that I then rather rapidly got up close and personal with. I was going fast enough to not only hit it with enough force to shove the front fork of my bike back so far that the front wheel would no longer go straight; I also managed to split open my chin. It was actually rather amusing, in an odd - gee, I think I may be in shock - sort of way. I didn't even know I'd hurt myself until some woman stopped her car and noted with no small amount of concern that I was bleeding all over myself (gotta love those head wounds). I was more concerned with the fact that I could no longer ride in a straight line (due to the aforementioned front fork issue) and I wasn't sure how I was going to ride the rest of the way home. Luckily, she was nice enough to give me and my bike a ride home, where I slapped a band-aid onto my chin until my boyfriend came over later, took one look at me, and promptly dragged me off to the hospital for stitches. Later, I had to fill out insurance paperwork for my emergency room trip, and they couldn't seem to grasp that I had been the one to hit the car, not the other way around. And then there was the fun of taking my bike in to get repaired and having the guy at the shop break down in laughter when I explained what had happened.

So we'll see how I do. For now I'm sticking to flat surfaces, where the only uphill climb is going over the railroad tracks. I need to build up my stamina before I try the complicated stuff.

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