I’d like to share a little story about how I almost died on the East Side last week.
I bought a bike about a month ago. She’s really pretty. I even named her Audrey because she’s graceful like Audrey Hepburn. Even with my not so graceful ass sitting on her.
If anyone that reads my blog recalls, I had a heart scare right before Christmas. My blood pressure to be exact.
They had no clue as to why my blood pressure was ridiculously high except my lifestyle. Yes, I smoke. Yes, I
guzzle consume alcohol. Yes, I’m overweight. I do not:
- Walk fast
- Take the stairs
- Appear to walk fast
- Turn down the elevator
- Eat right
- Drink enough water
I knew though that I needed to do something and the first thing that came to mind was that I could ride a bike. I mean, that’s not in the list up there now is it?
The last time I rode a bike was when I was around seven years old. Hell who knows if I even rode the damn thing. I just know I have a picture of myself from that time in my life and I’m sitting on a bike.
Now, I’ve been saying I’m going to get a bike for awhile. I finally went to Walmart and picked one out. I even rode it tentatively through the larger aisles. I wobbled to and fro and kept saying things like, “Whoaaa,” and “Sorry! I don’t think I’m going to run over you!” After a while I got off and was satisfied with my choice. The bike had a little tag that said, “Ride me to the checkout.” Nah, I thought. I’ve probably burned like 14 calories already. That’s enough exercise for one day.
Fast forward to the first day I actually got on the bike outside in the great wide open. I was so excited! I even bought a basket to put on the front so I can carry all sorts of things like
booze, my cell phone, water, snacks and tomato plants! Duh!
I got out onto the street and proceeded to pedal my way to a healthier me. A more active me. A more confident me. You would not believe the confidence it gave me! I even had other cyclists waving at me and people jogging, nodding their heads toward me. Even those that were walking, smiled and gave me their approval.
It was like I was a part of some secret exercise club now. You know how people who ride motorcycles wave at each other? Yeah. I was waving with the workout people. I felt special.
The first few weeks were AWESOME. I felt better, my clothes were fitting better in the butt and hips. No, no weight loss. I didn’t even care really, I was just proud of myself for riding.
I went so far as to entertain the idea of maybe being able to ride my bike to work one day. Now, that’s a five mile ride to work and five miles back. The farthest I’d ridden so far was almost four miles. So I
take three klonopin and a blood pressure pill gear myself up mentally and physically by packing some water and snack bars.
Bobby, my resident bike rider who rides a bike everydamnwhere is helping me stay positive. We were ready to go!
The first major intersection we get to I’m a little nervous but I cross and finally I’m good at the next one and so on. By the time we reach our halfway mark, my work, it’s been a little over five sweaty ass miles, and when I say sweaty ass, I mean it. Just trust me.
The ride back was easier because the wind was to our back and I had stopped at a nursery and bought my tomato plants and I was almost home. Now I’m used to the burn in my legs. Actually I don’t even feel anything. I’m focusing on my breathing and feeling my heart beat hard and feeling so damn accomplished. I may have even stuck my legs out and yelled “WEEEEEE,” a few times. I don’t know. Maybe the sun had gotten to me. Finally though we rolled up to the house a little over 10 miles later. I was proud.
Fast forward to Sunday past. April 12, 2015 to be exact.
I had no idea that I was signing up for the WORST day in history, to date, on my bike. You see I usually do this loop in my subdivision that I was getting bored with and I thought, “It’s such a nice day. I think I’ll try a new place and see some new sights.”
I packed up Audrey and my
water, medication, snacks, wallet and gum bike gear. I was headed to the East side of town where there was a little lake that had a loop around.
I pulled up and I was instantly nervous. There were people everywhere with bike racks on their cars. Some had their bikes down and were riding around the parking lot and some still had the bikes on top of their vehicles. There were joggers and walkers and moms with their strollers. Jesus H. Christ I was in exercise paradise. I was going to get a shit ton of waves today! I had found, what I now
sarcastically fondly call the “cool kids bike club”.
I unloaded Audrey, and was so fucking thankful that I didn’t end up looking as stupid dragging her out as I did when I was putting her in the back of my truck at my house. I parked her on the side of the truck out of the prying eyes of everyone and delicately placed my basket on her. I put all my things that I would need for my adventure. I was feeling a little bit better but still nervous.
This is where I get ridiculous. Damn it.
I did some stretches. Now I’ve never stretched before riding but I felt like somehow I needed to stretch now. People were watching me off and on and I had to look like I knew what I was doing. I mean seriously, I’m a cyclist. Come on.
A little pep talk and pretending to test out my pedals and making sure my basket was in place were my other warm up acts. Except today the fucking basket didn’t want to latch. I finally gave up because everyone was stealing glances in my direction. A young man came whizzing by on his very important looking bike and there was a girl running beside him panting like a dog asking him if he had an extra bottle of water.
“Of course I do,” he told her, “I learned early on to always have extra water!”
I immediately threw a second water bottle into my basket. Duh. All cyclists know you have extra water. I’m also thinking what the hell is this bitch running for in this heat. I’m a bit jealous but also thinking, “Haha…dumbass…if you were riding a bike you wouldn’t be so sweaty and hot and out of breath and look like you’re about to die!”
I get on my bike and again pretend to test out my brakes and pedals and suddenly, wonder runner girl comes whizzing by on two wheels! What the holy hell? She was just running and looked like she had been searching for her deathbed and now she was sprinting by on a damn bike? Like she hasn’t ran a marathon just minutes ago? Oh yeah. I had my work cut out for me.
I begin to leave the parking lot and suddenly feel burning in my thighs. What? The parking lot is level! I realize then what I’ve learned in my short time riding a bike. There can be an elevation difference that you don’t see but that doesn’t mean your out of shape thighs don’t notice it. That’s cool, I say to myself. You’ve got this. You rode 10 miles just a couple of weeks ago!
I hit the part where the drive meets the road. Take a right and I’m on my way.
There is a big difference I suddenly notice, in the way that the road feels under my tires versus the way it feels in my neighborhood. This is a road that has been driven on by many, many vehicles. Instantly I’m focusing on trying not bite my tongue as I pedal across all the invisible pot holes. Thudding along I see an incline coming up. Doesn’t look too bad but then again the ones I can’t see are horrible. Again I tell myself I have this.
I don’t. I didn’t. What the fucking hell has possessed me to even think I could be out here riding with the cool kids from the cool kids bike club?
I’m panting like a drowning dog in the pits of hell and I haven’t even gone one minute down the road! That’s when I hear a motorcycle coming behind me. I
wobbly gently pull over closer to the shoulder so they know that I know they are coming and I hear the engine slowing. At this moment I’m trying to focus on the fact that I’m going up Mt. Everest on my bike and simultaneously mentally cussing this person out for extending the period of time they have to witness my crucification that is this bike ride that JUST STARTED. The motorcycle comes up next to me and this dude leers at me. Yes. Leers. I know I can not look like a hot babe at this moment. Yet here he is smiling and it’s not a “hey-you-look-like-you’re-dying” look, it’s a “nice-junk-in-that-trunk” look. I swear if I could have rammed myself into his motorcycle and not hurt myself I would have. HELLO! I’m trying to cycle here asshole. Keep going! He did.
By now, I’ve climbed the second Mt. Everest and see the road sloping down. Thank GOD. As I hit around 90mph I’m smiling. Probably because all the blood has rushed to my frantically beating heart because unbeknownst to me, Mt. Everest on steroids is coming up and I think my heart knew before I did.
I managed to somehow tell myself to fuck off and turned my bike around. I could kill any cyclist that comes near me at this point. I was even telling myself if I could just get my body back to the damn truck, I’ll never ride again. I promise.
Wouldn’t you know it? Here comes a mom running behind one of those strollers that holds your kid in them. You know the ones? Yeah. She’s running full speed with a snoozing kid behind netting and she has the balls to…get this…smile and wave. If there had been any way in that moment for me to kick her in the face, I would have.
Fuck bike riding. Fuck exercise. Fuck all the things that go with raising your heart rate in an effort to get healthy, have fun and whatever else the fuck. Fuckity, fuck, fuck it ALL!
I hear the mapmyride application on my phone call out time, distance and miles per hour at that point. FUCK YOU TOO android voice coming from my basket. Fuck my basket. Fuck everything in my basket.
Ok, not my wallet. I need that.
I can see my truck in the parking lot. I just have to make it. As I draw closer, my heart pounding, my inner voice laughing at me, mocking me, I see all the same people who were there when I left. And…they are all looking at me coast into the parking lot.
I can only assume that they’re thinking, “Wow. Back already?”
How do I save face? Well obviously I can’t in person. I’m not walking up to them and telling them I’m a loser! In my mind though I’ve got a plan.
crawl dismount off of Audrey, do a few stretches and look around like I’m looking for someone in particular. I take a look at my wrist. Wait, I’m not wearing a watch. Oh well maybe they can’t see that. Basically I pretend that my whole 1.7 mile ride was a warm-up to the really long and powerful ride that I was supposed to conquer. Except…my co-rider(s) never showed. So I’m leaving. Seriously, an extreme rider can NOT wait around wasting time on people who are late. I mean, I have other courses to ride.
Yep. That’s what went through my head.
Then it happened. Lance Armstrong whizzed by on his bike. Helmet, lycra shorts, camel-pack water thingy-ma-jig. He went STRAIGHT up the dirt incline by which I was parked. Never broke a sweat.
Ok it wasn’t the real Lance Armstrong but fuck this guy.
And that’s how I managed to bow out gracefully from the Tour de France-Eastside Edition on that beautiful killer Sunday.
I’ll be back.