I’ve come a long way, baby.



This is a used bike I bought from a friend after she upgraded this week. I never got great on the borrowed bike because it was a hair too small so my knees would hurt after just a few miles. So, I’m really glad my friend started out knowing less about riding a bike than I do or else the test drive yesterday might have been embarrassing.

The gear shifting is completely different from the road bike I was riding. I was trying to memorize, “To make it harder, use my thumb…easier, use my finger…” but now I can’t remember which way it is. That may be backwards. Supposedly the more I ride it the more shifting will become “natural” and I won’t have to think about it. I can’t imagine getting to that point at all. I also could barely get up to 12mph on the road bike but I hear that I could easily get up to 16mph on this one…WHAT? SIXTEEN MILES PER HOUR? That seems so fast.

Here’s the thing about me on a bike. No one quite gets that part of my anxieties about being on the road on a bike…are exactly the same as being on the road in a car. I don’t like being near cars when I am IN a car. If I can at all help it, I try to avoid being within 3 car lengths of any car in front of me. I avoid routes when driving that incorporate left turns. I avoid driving during rush hour. I hate going fast. I hate curvy roads and will often ride my brakes the entire length of a curve.

One of my best friends was recently hit by a car while riding her bike, so that could be contributing to my worries. She lives in Illinois and is currently in the midst of considering filing a personal injury claim. So far she has found a personal injury attorney in Springfield and is going to meet up with them soon to discuss what happened.

So, as you can imagine, most of my anxieties about being on my bike on the road are not going anywhere. Because I have just as many (if not more) about driving.

But – I also have balance issues still. I’m not entirely comfortable on two wheels yet. So, there’s really no way I’m successfully throwing out turn signals. Hell, I road the entire 4’ish miles test drive yesterday with an itchy nose I couldn’t scratch because I didn’t want to let go of a handlebar. I’m going to spend some time on the greenway practicing my turn signals before I ever brave the road in an open-riding environment. And I’m guessing that maybe this time next year I’ll finally be comfortable getting a water bottle off the bike.

All of that said…I’m super-excited. And if you’ll recall..it wasn’t that long ago that I was terrified of riding a bike. And I’m still scared, my friend let me walk my bike yesterday past an intersection before getting on it, but I’m also excited which is what was missing before.

And THAT is the lesson of this all. That sometimes we are scared of things, but if we do them enough, they become something we enjoy. It’s not a complex idea, but it’s something that is hard to believe when you’re in the middle of the battle with your fears. Seeing the other side of that war is impossible when you’re shell-shocked. So, you’ll just have to trust me. There is another side. The trick is finding people who have fought the war before you and letting them help you navigate. Having a friend who couldn’t get on a bike a year ago helped me believe that I could get to the other side.

Here I am. The proud owner of a bike…without a kickstand. I am hoping the weather cooperates today and I can get out on it this evening. If all goes well when I get out on the greenway with it, I’m signing up for a duathlon in September. WHEEEEEE!!!!

(And maybe, by then, I’ll have mastered turn signals.)

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