Saturday, April 11, 2009

Riding my new Specialized Dolce Triple

This has not been a great week for me.  It started going slightly pear-shaped on Monday, after my swimming session, when I realised just what a huge undertaking this might turn out to be. That I had decided to face two of my biggest fears in one undertaking, learning to ride a bike and overcoming my fear of deep water, suddenly seemed insurmountable obstacles.  So this week dragged by with me doing very little in the way of training.
I swam (sort of) on Monday; Tuesday and Thursday I had a bike lesson; so Wednesday I did not go to my run class at MIT, nor to the spinning class on Friday.  In fact, I was dreading Saturday. Because today was supposed to be the day that I took my new Specialized Dolce Triple down to 
the Bicycle Riding School and started to ride on it.
I have been avoiding my blog since the recently installed countdown widget informs me that I have 35 days left to learn to ride a bike well enough to venture on the street, AND swim in deep water!  So perhaps I can do a quick summary of my lessons this week.  Pata has taken me down to the trail, a 13 mile trail that is usually populated with babies, children, runner and other cyclists on weekends and warm sunny days.  Indeed the first time I rode part of the trail was nerve-wracking!  I kept thinking I would knock someone down, but thankfully that never happened.  We went down a few other times, and it improved each time, though I felt nervous throughout.  
Last Tuesday was a cold miserable and very windy day.  The trail was rather deserted except for a few die-hard cyclists, so I had a good opportunity to practice in windy cold conditions. Thursday was pretty good too, as it was even colder and this time we had a lot of commuters getting off the trains, as we cycled a bit further than we had done to date.  Still I never managed to feel quite at ease on the bike.  True, I felt I had made a huge leap of quality as I finally managed to take my foot off the pedal in anticipation of stopping, rather than slamming on the brakes, putting my foot down and almost relocating my knee to a new position.  Also, things seemed a bit steadier, I could actually stay steady when overtaken by other cyclists, rather than feeling so panic-stricken that I had to stop.
Today however, was going to be a huge challenge - this time I was going to learn to ride a road bike - the one I will use in the triathlon.  It was cold, rainy with the promise of snow later this evening.  I took my bike on the T down to Pata's, and by the time I got there, I was frozen stiff - despite 3 layers.  My fingers were numb, and I had no feeling left in them.  After changing my saddle, we went down to the schoolyard, where it now started raining in earnest.  Not a soul was out, and we had the yard to ourselves.
We started off with the same basics as when I started on the mountain bike: balancing first, then one leg on the pedal, then finally Pata asked, "Do you feel like pedalling?"  Before I knew it, I was cycling around the schoolyard - yes cycling and not wobbling all over!  I was shocked, stunned and amazed! Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would turn out like this.  I imagined that it would be like learning to cycle all over again.  Round and round I went in the pelting rain.  My jacket was soaked through and my fingers were so numb, I could hardly feel the brakes.
But the sense of joy and accomplishment were nonpareil. Me, yes me, could actually ride a road bike!
My fingers are a bit chillblainy at the moment, and it is a bit painful to type, but perhaps later on this evening I can write some more on my wonderful adventure today! I feel like a queen - riding a bike is such an amazing experience - one I never thought I would actually enjoy, but yes enjoy it I did.

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