Not every ride is a KILLING TRAINING RIDE designed to churn your stomach over and set your legs ablaze. There are those days that beg for a recovery ride or demand time to work on clipless pedals with your friends. I had forgotten how nervous I was when I “went clipless” but I really was not given a choice. My flat (possibly recyclable) plastic pedals were replaced with a contraption (Crank Bros) designed to hold my feet in place at all times and before I could utter a question, I pushed off, feet secured in place and told to be careful. That ride was dreadful. It was like stripping my training wheels off and then sending me out in traffic. I came back from that ride soaked in anxiety dripping sweat. I vowed NEVER to do that to someone. No thank you.
I held true to my vow. Instead of slapping on the pedals and pushing off my friend, we spent time getting to know each pedal and practicing clipping in and out…in and out…in and out...(you get it). My friend was convinced that she would NEVER be able to ride clipless and 45-minutes later, I heard her yell across the parking lot, “Melinda…I am doing it! I am riding clipless! You are the best teacher!”…Before I take off in traffic, I want to be comfortable on my bike. I hope the same for my friends and if someone is hesistant, then it is best to spend more time assuring them of their abilities (I knew she could do it). After an hour of practicing, we left the parking lot. I was a bit dizzy from all the circles we had done but excited as I listened to her clip in and out behind me. It was one of those perfect afternoons with a slight breeze and sun overhead. This was NOT going to be a mash it, kill it, grunt through it ride. This was a fun, leisure ride for a fine Spring Saturday afternoon. My friend adjusted to her pedals while we discussed life, boys, and the idea that one-day things have to change for both of us. Deep philosophical conversations are best had on steep hills while you are trying to find your rhythm. The slower pace also gave way for one of my favorite sights in the park right now.
Erin riding clipless for the first time
A favorite sighting in the park these days are a father/ daughter duo that could melt frozen butter. The father is usually pulling up the rear with multiple water bottles and snacks in his jacket. In the front is his daughter, possibly six years old riding her two-wheeled bike in cowboy boots and pig tails (sticking out through her helmet). They do NOT ride in parking lots nor sidewalks. This father and tot are hardcore and they ride the park streets with her little cowboy boot dressed legs spinning like mad (remember, her wheels are tiny) on her single speed mini bike. She gets around the park with her dad cheering/ coaching her on. I always make it a point to tell her how well she is doing because quite honestly, she rocks it. She is on a child’s bike riding in the park on roads that I get nervous on and who cannot envy pink and black cowboy boots for cycling footwear (I wish I had thought of that!). Each time the girl see’s me, she says, “hi” really loudly and attempts a wave but quickly places her hands back on the handlebars—balance will come young one. I always wave, cheer her on and then proceed on with one envious thought in my head, “I want to do that one day…”
Leisure rides provide time to think and somehow yesterday I began forming the thought of the kind of parent I will be one day. I will be THAT parent that will have their child on a bike as soon as possible (is birth too soon? Onsies come in cycling wear, right?). I would have them in the park. I would ride trails, road or parking lots with excitement. I was fortunate that my father always made time for me. Every sport I ran his wallet through, he was right there to coach me on. I know there are days when he could have been doing a lot of other things but he spent weekends traveling from county to county for softball, BMX, cross country, and soccer for so many years, he could have received an MVP trophy. I never wore cowboy boots to events but I know if I had wanted to, my dad would have not blinked…but he would have cheered/ coached me on.