Mission Ride a Bike: Biking down hills, near cars and related tragedies

I went back to Riverside Park and CRUSHED riding in a circle on flat land. I scooted gracefully around all of the little children. I turned, I glided. I did ALL THE THINGS. So when Matt and I made plans to go to the Berkshires I was pretty excited to put my bike riding skills to use.

As my more-experienced-bike rider readers already know: All bike rides are not created equal.

First: cycling topography lesson: riding on hills is different than riding on a flat path. Riding down and up slopes required that I engage the gears of the bike.  Let’s talk about a bike’s gears shall we? It’s the least perfect mechanical engineering I’ve ever learned about. I can’t believe in 2014 this is as far as bike riding technology has gotten. You twist a lever, the bike jerks as it connects with a chain and sometimes resistance increases and other times it lessens. But its not an exact science and I found it startling (gut wrenching). Riding downhill I feared the bike would flip, and more than once attempting to go up hill I found myself slipping down.

Riverside Park could not have (and did not) prepare me for this. I would like to know what you all make of a bike’s gears? It seems very Fred Flintstone that bike’s operate this way. Am I alone here?

Second big difference: Cars!  Number of cars in Riverside Park: 0; Number of cars in Great Barrington, MA: 5. That’s 500% more many cars! So evidently while I was out rollerblading or reading a book like an indoor kid, the bikers and the drivers got together and signed a pact to share the road. And we’re all supposed to just take deep breath and believe it.  That’s not very easy for me. The sound of a car rushing behind me is horrifying. I visualize the Subaru Repair & Service Atlanta and the kind of repair it’ll need to have if crashed. I have no established trust it would work out. Also, to come clean, as a driver I curse bikers. So there is that.

We saw a monster truck on the road. Really. Nothing makes you feel smaller on a bike than seeing one of those. Absolutely nothing bad happened but I felt like this truck had appeared just to remind me of my own mortality. (Too much for a fitness blog??)

the Goliath to my David
the Goliath to my David

All told, we did a 6 mile ride to the General Store. I can sum it up by saying: I didn’t cry at all on the way back.

But morale is still high. I am excited to keep getting better.

Also, this is how to wear a bike helmet, FYI. (Photo thanks to Anchorage Bike Helmets)





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