bike

I want to ride my bicycle!

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Okay, not really.

While I had intended on heading out for a Zombie Run this evening, I changed over to a bike ride instead. I was unsure where to ride, but I didn't want to ride very long. As with most things, if I have a goal in mind, the effort feels easier, so I decided to ride over to Keith and Katie's place since it was exactly 10k away. Half way there, I realized I was close to where Andy and Kris meet up before they went out on their Tuesday evening bike ride, so I changed my destination on a whim to meet up with them before they left.

Yeah, that whim wasn't very wise.

Not impressed

First of all, no one told me about the headwind on Foothill Road. I merged onto the road, and practically stopped as I was hit by the headwind. I wasn't passed by anyone, which surprised me, but I wasn't expecting to catch up with a crowd, either. Of course, it was at a light when I caught up with them.

I've never drafted off anyone before. When Guy and I rode, we rode either tandem or mountain bikes, so we didn't really draft. I had some vague notion of how close to be, but not really. When the light turned green, they all clipped in, hopped on and started pedaling. They seemed to know each other, evening out into a line based on some unknown-to-me hierarchy.

I shifted in behind the last guy, sat about 30cm behind his back wheel, focused on his back and started pedaling. What I wasn't expecting, again, was the looks I began receiving from the group as they turned around and saw me behind them.

I suspect no guy with a $3000 bike wants a woman in a t-shirt, running shorts and running shoes, on a shockless, clipless, cageless, fifteen year old, cheap-ass mountain bike with hybrid tires and a bell, drafting off of him. Especially when she's probably twice his age, pedalling like mad with only three gears on her bike, and keeping up.

Yeah.

I kept up for a while, but the road shifted into an uphill, and I was missing gears that would help me adjust to the new incline. The gearshift for my large gear works; the gearshift for the back, smaller gears doesn't. I have three gears on my bike: Granny, Kitt, and Kitt-standing. With the incline, I needed something between Granny and Kitt. Instead, I was dropped by the pack. I kept going, but was frustrated again by the headwinds.

Next light, I caught up to them.

Repeat. Complete with funny looks, shifting into the back of the pack, being dropped, catching up at the next light.

Twice.

Eventually I turned off Foothill in order to meet up with the crew, and realized I was going to be late. They were meeting at six, and it was six, and I wasn't there yet. I did manage to arrive at 6:05, catching the group just ask they were ready to leave. When I pulled into the lot, they all turned to look at me, and I swear a couple looked at me in disbelief. THIS PERSON is going on the ride with us? No way!

Yeah, no way.

In the distance

Kris rather looked at me as if he didn't really know who I was, much less why I was standing next to him on my bike. Andy smiled at me in surprise and seemed happy to see me. Both of them asked if I was going on the ride with them. I said no, I was just here to say hello, just as the group signalied to leave. Off they all went, and I managed to keep up with them for about 50m, and then just gave up. I was tired.

I'm not a biker. I don't like biking. My bottom was hurting, my sitz bones were hurting. I was tired and thirsty. I stopped for a drink of water, and just stood there for a while, before heading back. I think there were more "downhills" than "uphills" on the way back, but you couldn't tell by my riding times: 33 minutes there, 38 minutes back.

It was, for the most part, a good ride, as far as rides go. I'm not a cyclist, I don't want to be a cyclist, I'm not willing to invest the time to become a cyclist. I was terrified of cars at every intersection, praying a bit each time that the drivers see me, that they recognize the small woman on the bike. I had my hands on the brakes every time I approached an intersection.

I have to say, though, the phrase "like riding a bike" has some merit. In my hour ride, I felt a lot of riding skills somewhat coming back. I remembered a number of details that Guy would tell me, about standing up before going over obstacles, about moving right, calling out "left!" as I passed someone, the principles of drafting. My motorcycle riding skills seemed to be applicable at points, too, including the ones about leaning into a curve, attacking an obstacle, looking where you are going, accelerating away from a potential accident, and being wary of EVERYONE on the road around me.

About three fourths of the way through the ride, I realized I am really not used to the steady pace of riding a bike. I ended up having to stand up and sprint for a bit, then coast, then stand up and sprint for a bit, then coast. Riding with clipless, cageless pedals made that difficult, given that I could push on the down stroke, but couldn't pull up on the up stroke. I hadn't realized that I had somewhat mastered that skill with all the riding with Guy, and was somewhat happy to realize I had.

The last half mile back was hard. I think it was the anticipation of being home and done with the ride. My sitz bones totally hurt, and I'm definitely weary.

I think the next time I go out, it'll be after I've fixed the rear brake on the bike: it was stuck half closed the whole ride.

The Left Turn

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Andy Fisher came over today to work on a site of mine. On our way to lunch, we passed an SUV which had slowed in the right lane as it waited for a biker to ride around a parked car. While the biker was riding around a parked car and using the right lane, the SUV honked at the rider with a long "I'm irritated at you!" honk.

Making me instantly irritated at the driver.

Bikes and their riders are considered full vehicles in California. If they want to ride down the middle of the lane, they are legally allowed to do so. If they're riding slowly, find, move around the bike and pass, but don't honk at them. Good lord, honking is probably just going to startle the biker, possibly leading to an accident. Regardless, idiot driver, you should realize YOU'RE IN A 3 TON VEHICLE. The worst the biker can do to you is dent your fender. YOU CAN KILL THE BIKER.

The event reminded me of another driver being an asshole around a biker, only I was the biker in the other incident. My roommate at the time, Kristi McAdams, and I were waiting at a light to turn left across a fairly big road, at least three lanes going the other directions. When the arrow turned green, we hopped up on our bikes and started biking left.

Apparently we weren't fast enough in our biking, though, because the idiot Asian woman driver pulled between the two of us, nearly hitting both of us on either side of her car before accelerating away down the street. I was immediately stunned. Could someone have really just done that? I was then angry. I knew there were two stop signs and a stop light on the street. I knew she'd have to stop. I took off after her, to the cries of Kristi yelling "No!"

Well, nearly injuring two bikers with her recklessness wasn't enough for the idiot driver. She also ran both stop signs without slowing. She was caught, however, by the red light at the end of the street, which is where I caught her, too.

I rolled around to the front of her car, slammed my hands on her hood and yelled, "YOU COULD HAVE KILLED US!" I then continued for a short while, yelling at her, accentuating my points with slams on her hood, until my anger exhausted itself. I have no idea if she understood how much of an idiot she was, or if she merely went away thinking, "Wow, bikers are morons. I should run over more of them."