I can't start talking about this summer's adventures without telling you that I started riding with CLIPS! I have been thinking of riding with clips for at least two years. It's very efficient, since you push and pull with each stroke and your foot stays aligned correctly.
However, it is also VERY SCARY. My foot is attached to the bike. What if I have to stop suddenly and can't get unclipped? Every one I know who rides with clips will tell a story of the time they forgot they were clipped in and fell over, causing a domino line of other riders to go down. The thought paralyzed me from moving forward to clipping.
Finally, I decided to try an old pair of Carl's clip shoes. I wouldn't have a big investment in case things didn't work out, and I chose spin class for my training ground. If I couldn't unclip, then at least I couldn't possibly fall over.
After a few classes and lots of stupid moments, I finally had the hang of it. But I was still terrified of hitting the street clipped in. One morning Carl explained that if it was that hard, 14,000 riders on the MS 150 wouldn't be out there clipped in. When he put it that way, it put the mountain I was making into molehill perspective. So I asked to borrow his bike with clip pedals already on it and prepared to make my maiden voyage.
Carl also suggested maybe I needed something on my knees. If I fell, most likely I would scrape them. I found my old self defense class knee pads and elbow pads and put them on. Dorky, but prepared.
And I was off. The power. The smoothness. The ecstasy! I didn't fall that day, and so far, I have not taken the first fall. I will, I know, some day when I forget what I am doing. But until then, I am soaring!
I kept Carl's bike for my own. ( It was his hybrid backup, and who knows where I am going with this biking thing. Too soon to go buy a bike fit for me.) This move alone increased my speed by two miles per hour. I'm not pushing the weight of my Auntie Em bike around anymore. Carl is still faster than me, but at least we arrive at our destination within the same day. (I think he likes resting while he waits for me to catch up.)
Now that I have laid the groundwork for my new passion, let me tell you about my first bike ride at 6,000 feet above sea level. Yikes! I live at 50 feet above sea level and everything is flat, flat, flat. When we got to Golden, Colorado, I looked up all the amazing bike paths in the area and found we could ride several staring two blocks away.
We took off on our chosen path, about three miles long. I intended to take it easy my first day at altitude. Should be able to out and back that one, right? WRONG. Check out the scenery and I shouldn't have to explain further.
I made great time going downhill. As a matter of fact, I braked all the way down. I'm a flatlander who might hit 15 mph down an overpass and my bike wants to go 40 mph. I'm a freakin' clip newbie attached to a bike that could crash! Brakes!!!
But uphill? I huffed and puffed and downshifted. When I slowed to 5 mph in LoLo and my pulse hit 160, I got off and walked. It took close to an hour to go five miles. Silver lining? No wind whatsoever.
Coloradans must have lungs the size of big helium birthday balloons. Yesterday we drove up Lookout Mountain. At the end of a workday, the biking community was out climbing to the top of the 7,500 foot mountain. There must have been 100 bicyclists out for their evening iron man experience. The cyclists rode faster than we drove.
I stand humbled and hopeful, looking toward the Rockies and dreaming of the day I have big lungs too.