I used to hate it when people used that phrase because it’s used to imply something that is easy, something that you never forget and can always pick up on at a later point in life. I’d mutter to myself under my breath, “Easy for YOU to say.” Because for me, “riding a bike” was fraught with anxiety.
When I decided to sign up for this triathlon, I knew it was going to be as much (or more) a psychological challenge as a physical one. (although that isn’t anything to sneeze at, either!) I feel like I pretty much can deal with the running. Last week, I got into a swimming pool for the first time in 17 years and.. I didn’t drown! I didn’t exactly meet the goal of 200 yards with only a 10second rest (starting recommendation for the Olympic distance triathlon) but I did the whole thing freestyle, and I know if I’d mixed it up with some other strokes it would have been OK. So I checked that off the list.
Last weekend Mr McBody went to pick up Junior’s bike from the house she’d left it at. I totally hemmed and hawed all week, even when he asked me if I wanted to take it on a little spin around our cul-de-sac. NO thank you. Honestly, I was terrified. But today I told myself, I’d give it a try.
First I woke up late. Then I did a pile of paperwork, paid bills, and organized an entire purse and deskful of receipts into a neat little accordian file with sticky tabs. That took me pretty much half the day. Then I had to have lunch. And a cup of coffee. And fret about my clothing. Mister McBody was laughing at me. “What’s the problem?” I was wearing long leggings. “But what if it’s hot?” “Then wear shorts.” “But I need something to protect me.” “Protect you from what?” “From the BIKE!” I was envisioning my legs getting caught in gears and chains and having half my calf skin torn clear off. Finally, I went outside and it was indeed hot so I put on a pair of shorts.
He put air in the tires and applied some greasy goo stuff to the chain. I went into the house to go to the bathroom and procrastinate in any other way I could think of.
Finally we loaded up the bikes and drove down to the Estuary Trail, which is a lovely path I’ve often run on. It goes along the water and a bird sanctuary and ends up near the Oakland airport. It is utterly flat with just a couple curves here and there and best of all, no traffic. It was the perfect spot for a first (in many years) ride. How many years? Well Juniorette is 17 years old and she swears she has NEVER seen me on a bike in her whole life. She denies any memory of such a thing. I told her I’d ridden along the Truckee River at Tahoe, and she said she didn’t believe it. So it’s been a lot of years.
I was tense. To say the least.
Finally it was the moment of truth. We fiddled with the seat and then I got on and… at first my hands were gripping those handlebars so tight I thought the skin was going to shear off my knuckles. But after a minute or two I realized I wasn’t totally struggling to stay upright. I skidded to a stop and jumped off at the sign of any turning, but eventually I got the hang of that too. We took off down the trail and it was pretty good for about five minutes. Then my pocket started ringing. I realized it was Junior, calling me from her day off. She is off being a counselor at circus camp where they have NO EMAIL, NO TEXTING and NO CELL PHONE reception so we’ve been completely incomunicado from her. So when I got this call I knew that she was on her day off and was once again in cell range. I HAD to answer it.
We ended up standing there in the trail for a good half hour, talking with our offspring. (Good thing I chose Mr. McBody for my first riding partner and not anyone else, because nobody else would’ve put up with that!) We had a very good talk in which she pondered her many life paths ahead of her, and by the time we got going again I had almost forgotten I was terrified.
We rode for a total of 10K or 6.2 miles. ME! Wow!!!!! Now, granted, this ride involved no hills or traffic or cars, BUT the fact that I survived it without having a complete physical or mental breakdown was a huge reason to celebrate. I was so relieved! SO RELIEVED.
On the way home we discussed our dinner plans. I really didn’t want to go out. But I also didn’t really feel like cooking. But I wanted to celebrate. What to do? Then I remembered Danica talking about Foodgawker yesterday and I remembered how I love that site and that I’d just added the iPhone app. I opened it up and it jumped out at me: MUSSELS! We love mussels but we’ve never made them at home. We veered off to stop at Market Hall which is a collection of tiny special food shops including seafood, produce, cheese… yum.
They had mussels. Yay! And they weren’t expensive! Then I saw these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and I thought, “Caprese salad!” Mister M picked up some Prosecco and other wine, and some mozzarella di Bufala, and we were set.
WHAT A FEAST!
This is the recipe I used, which I originally found via Foodgawker. It was soooooooo good.
And here are some fancy pics from our fancy at-home dinner. SO GOOD and a wonderfully fitting celebration for my unfatal first foray into bike riding. One more step to being less terrified! Cheers!
July 11, 2011 at 6:43 am
Man I aspire to be YOU.
In your fearlessnessment
In your MOTHERHOOD.
in your writing.
I ALL OF THE ABOVE.
so so proud of you!
July 11, 2011 at 7:53 am
So proud of you and so jealous too! I have a bike in my parents’ garage that I really should get out because it’s honestly not that terrifying once you’re out there and enjoying it.
And I love your gourmet dinner at home!!
July 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Give it a little try, Mandy… it’s not so bad!!
July 11, 2011 at 9:45 am
Congratulations! You faced down a fear and didn’t let it keep you off the bike anymore. So happy for you and wishing you the best as you prepare to achieve the goal you set.
July 11, 2011 at 10:03 am
I think this is what I admire about you most…that you face your fears and go for it anyway. Add to it your willingness to just go and do something, physical or not. It’s something I really picked up on at Fitbloggin and I realized that ever since, I’ve been striving to be a bit more Foodie McBody-ish 🙂
July 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm
Good for you! I havne’t ridden a bike for a years, either, but I’m tempted to find one, now…
July 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm
Now I need to go pump up the tires on that old mountain bike in the garage. But that’s not what I’m really afraid of, so if I were REALLY listening to your message and facing my fears, I’d be at Academy, buying a bathing suit so I could go to the gym and (gulp) swim. ish.
July 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm
Woo hoo! Rock it Foodie!!
July 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm
July 15, 2011 at 4:48 am
I’m so glad I came across your blog – I’m absolutely terrified about riding a bike – and yes I did ride a bike about 20 years ago, but since then I’ve learned how to cripple myself with irrational fear and I just can’t bring myself to get on a bike again … hmmm after reading your blog post, maybe I’ll give it a try 🙂
July 15, 2011 at 11:42 am
If you do, make sure it’s in an easy, untrafficked area. I know I would not have been able to cope with traffic or hills my first time out. But since I did OK on the flat trail, I feel like I can start to “graduate” my rides to add more difficulty. Good luck! We can do this!
July 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm
Thanks for the tip 🙂