Ok – it is really more like the third. I’ve ridden my new bike twice around my neighborhood.
Prior to this, I really haven’t ridden a bike since I was a kid. Have I ever mentioned one of my front teeth is fake due to trying to ride my bike up on a curb and crashing it when I was maybe 8? No? Well, now you know. I also had a beautiful blue beach cruiser in college that looked so cute leaning against the wall in my dorm.
When we bought the bike from Mike’s Bikes’ San Rafael location, I explained my extreme level of novice and newness to the world of things on two wheels. They suggested attending one of their Sausalito location’s Wednesday night rides. “We welcome every skill level! It will be a great place to get comfortable!”
So, I call Mike’s Bikes in Sausalito this morning. “Are you having your Wednesday night ride tonight?” Yep, they say. It’s the last one they will do for the summer.
I show up at Mike’s Bikes around 5:30. I had an apple with peanut butter before I left the house, figuring I’d eat dinner when I got back. As I pull up, there are no families, no kids. As a matter of fact, I see no such thing as “every skill level!” These people are kitted out (in actual bike kits), clipped in (I’m literally the only one in tennis shoes), and ready to ride.
I am wearing a light purple quarter zip that, when paired with my light pink bike, really gives off a My Little Pony vibe.
Apparently this is THE end of summer ride. The one all the cyclists show for. And there are a lot of them. I ask a lady where I can find the C group. I had been told at one point – likely during the conversation where many skill levels were promised – that there was to be an A, B and C group. A was for almost elite level cyclist, B was for quite competent and C was for beginners.
The lady looks at me. “Hmm I dunno, Tom leads that I think.” Someone toots a megaphone and everyone ZOOMS off along the bike path. At least we were going to be on bike paths! I pedal hard to stay with them. They are going SO fast.
I find who I think is likely Tom and promptly explain this is my third time riding this bicycle. He laughs like he doesn’t believe me. In about 45 feet, we turn off the bike path and directly into traffic. NO NO NO NO. We sit in a turn lane. I pull up, have to stop, try to put one foot down and kind of fall down. In traffic and amidst a large group of cyclists. It smells like exhaust and bad ideas. A girl offers that I should decide which foot I’m going to put down before stopping. Guess the baby giraffe on ice method isn’t her thing.
We turn and head down and narrow one lane road with more large cars! So good. I am now sweating profusely due to anxiety. It is dripping down my nose, but I am too afraid to take my hands off the handlebars to wipe it off. We start going up hills now. I start working my way through the crowd. I want to be in the middle of people so I don’t get lost. I don’t want to be left behind like the limpy gazelle that gets eaten by the lion.
A man rides up next to me and suggests I try shifting down. He pedals away. I start clicking the little clicky things on the handlebars. It doesn’t seem to make it easier, so I focus on staying with the group. I find the mystic Tom again and ask where we are going. Muir Beach.
That’s far. I want out. I did not sign up for this. I ran 8 miles at a 7:12 average pace 4 f**king AM and did squats, lunges and deadlifts. Except – I’m too afraid to ride back alone. That fear overpowers the fear of continuing. Tom explains that there will be a place in the road where cyclists in the A & B groups veer left and go to Stinson Beach, and we will go to Muir Woods and back. Hmmm. Not that much better.
Now we have crested the hill and you can see the ocean. The road is really winding (like in a BMW commercial) and it is COLD. It is foggy, and I decide I should be greatful for my My Little Pony colors as I hope they will make me more visible to cars.
The downhills start and everyone seemingly loves this. They lean into their bikes and ZOOM. Gone.
Alone. Limpy gazelle status. CRAP. Did I miss the turn? I think I did. I decide I will just ride the damn bike to Stinson Beach and take an uber home. My hands are cramping from riding the brakes.
I see a group of old guys and pedal to them. Manage a slightly less clumsy dismount. I have not missed the turn! We have two more hills and then it is downhill back to the shop where we started. I explain, again – this is my third time riding the bike and first real road ride. They are excited about how well I am doing. They must not be able to see my anxiety sweat. We start going up another hill and they explain I am in the hardest gear. They show me how use the clicky things to shift down. Much better. The downhills are still terrifying. The bike wants to go and I do not. One final hill and I have to pull over and dismount for a car. Now I have to get back on and get moving forward again while going uphill. It takes three tries.
I forgot to start my Garmin for the first round of anxiety sweat but I can’t believe I did that ride!
Wish me luck walking tomorrow.
Is it weird that it was exhilarating and fun? Even though it was soaked in anxiety sweat? I must really want to do a triathlon. Or I am completely crazy…
Whoever came up with the statement, “oh it’s easy, like riding a bike.” Should be shot.