Monday, November 7, 2011

Nov 7: Lessons Learned on a Bicycle

Graffiti along the bike path.
Every time I get out on my bicycle now I wonder if it will be the last ride until spring. Between 6:30 play rehearsals, teaching, and shorter days, I haven't gone out with any regularity over the past few weeks. Today though the temperature climbed above 60, the sun was shining, and I'd left one of my students in charge of distributing evaluations and turning them into the office.* I cut out 15 minutes early, rushed home, changed into my diaper cycling shorts, pumped up my tires and hit the river trail. 

I had to wonder as I rode if this might be the last ride of the season, which brought on a touch of nostalgia. I rode southwest because it's the fastest ride, and I didn't have a lot of time for crossing roads and slowing for sharp curves .... the same trail I rode on my very first ride. And the same one I rode one night when one of my riding buddies, the Architect, told me I needed to just get out and ride as fast and hard as I could because someone had been really mean to me. He was right, and he rode right along beside me. Bike therapy. We pushed my limits hard that night. You can't ride away from hurt, but you can forget it for a while if you just go fast enough. I did a lot of therapy on that bike.

I learned some other lessons on the path.
  • I can ride further and faster when the temperature is over 95 degrees than I can a day like today. And I caught hundreds of bugs in my sweat too, which makes me something of an exterminator.
  • Spending as much as I could for a bike meant I wanted to ride it as often as I could. Same reason I play a Gibson guitar. Pay more, play more, ride faster. Most of the people I rode with couldn't keep up with me, which meant my penis is bigger because mostly I rode with men I appeared to be some kind of badass biker .... which I totally am.
  • This is not the simple bike of my youth. It has all kinds of fancy hardware on it, including presta valve stems. Too bad the guy at the bike shop didn't tell me about those. I had to abort a community ride because of a low tire just because I didn't know how to operate my fucking valve stems. 

    Go ahead. Say it. It looks like a steampunk dildo, doesn't it?
  • A concussion hurts, even a mild one. Wearing a helmet is a good idea even if you don't ever intend to hit the ground with your head.
  • It's not that scary to ride by myself through the city after midnight because there's hardly any traffic and nobody can run 18 or even 13 miles an hour, which is about how fast I can ride if I don't hit lights. Next summer I'm going to do more late night riding downtown.
I had one more lesson to share, but it's long and I have a deadline to meet for NaBloPoMo. So I'll share one more thing.

Those of you who've known me a while know I can't do anything without getting involved in the politics. Same with cycling. Shortly after I bought my bike, I was at a pre-opening menu tasting for a new restaurant in town. I met a guy there who insisted I needed to join his cycling organization and go on a big bike ride they were throwing in a later in the summer. I was excited, so I told people about the big ride and signed up and joined the group's Facebook that very night.

I didn't end up going on that ride, but I went on a later one. And I did go to the first open meeting of the group and got involved with the communications end of it. I've been working on a project with a guy I met that night, and I expect to work on some others as we get the wheels rolling. I've met some fun people and I'm looking forward to riding with some of them in the future.

I hope today's ride wasn't the last one of the season, but it very well could be. Fucking daylight savings time. A Man Called Horse said to me one blistering 100+ degree day, "What will we do when it gets too cold to ride?"

"I guess I'll go to the gym and lift weights and ride the pretend bikes there," I said. Sigh. It's just not the same if I'm not speeding along with the river on one side and the levy on the other. It's an addiction and I want more.

* I'm not allowed to stay in the classroom while they fill them out. I've learned not to hand back papers on eval day. And as I leave I make them laugh by telling them if they write "she sucks" on the back, they have to cite because that's already been written. So I will expect a works cited attached and paranthetical citation after "she sucks" if they decide to write that. They're kind enough to act shocked that any student would say such a thing about me. Good liars, my kids.


  1. I can just see you riding and I hope it won't be your last ride of the season. It reminded me when my friend and i used to ride. I guess we were about 12, and we did that same thing - a bad day just meant taking the hills as fast as we could. It really WAS exhilarating! Thanks for the reminder. ;)
    Blog on!

  2. I got my bike up over 26 mph this summer. That's not such an impressive speed for some cyclists, but it was fast enough for me. I'll try to hit 30 next summer. Just once, to see if I can.

    The Architect got his up to 52 once. I'd be scared shitless.

  3. I think I've kept up with you pretty well, except for that one day I was having a heart attack.

    Also keeping up with NaCoRetWritMo.

  4. Great graffiti photo and your descriptions of riding really make me want to ride. somewhere without all the traffic there is around here.

  5. I have always been a biker too and the freedom is addictive. When I was younger it was very funny to me that I could ride my bike fatser than traffic to go around where I lived. The look on those drivers faces as I passed them was priceless. I had this fantstic racing bike when I was in college. One day in the cafeteria I was telling this beautiful girl all about my fantastic bike. She seemed to be really into it and couldn't wait to see it. We walked outside and I was beaming with pride as she looked at my bike with equal disappointment and said "oh, I thought you meant a motorcycle!". I got, none.

    You know that you can still ride in the winter,right? If you can't find studded tires for your bike then just get a cheap mountain bike and studded tires for it. The riding isn't as fast but it can be just as exhilarating. However, this is coming from a guy who has busted out his front teeth four times.

  6. Diplomat, you've made it a whole week leaving comments. You can do it!

  7. Kristin, aren't there any bike paths in Atlanta? Can you ride in residential areas?

    I rarely ride in heavy traffic here. I either take the sidewalk or take another route. We've got some bike lanes downtown now, but I'm not sure most drivers know what they are. Still, our traffic is nothing like downtown Atlanta.

  8. Vapor, I've got a mountain bike, but I doubt I'll put studded tires on it and ride in the cold. I don't like winter so much.

    I can just imagine the look on that girl's face. Hee.

  9. "I've got a mountain bike, but I doubt I'll put studded tires on it and ride in the cold. I don't like winter so much."

    There goes the bad-ass biker image you've been cultivating. I,for one,love winter. It's just too bad that it snows so little here.