Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The danger of inexperience

This last weekend I went to southern California for the first time in a few years. And I had my first SoCal bike ride ever. It looked a lot like this:
For you non-Californians (and northern Californians), this is a "beach."
There was a lot of flat riding along the beach with a few difficult hills. I went out in the early morning of what turned out to be a very sunny day.

Because I hadn't planned to bring my bike, I rode a borrowed bike: a 17-inch Schwinn Crosscut...or Crossfit...Cross-something anyway. A decent city bike with a few features I was unfamiliar with...twist shifters and toe clips.  I found myself shifting accidentally quite a bit, though I was almost used to the shifters by the end of the ride.

But the toe clips...I don't think I'll ever get used to those. The main problem I had was that they were set up for someone with smaller feet. I was able to slip into them perhaps thirty percent of the time, and at a few stops I teetered precariously for a few seconds before I was able to pull my feet out.

Well, there was that last stop. I'd just gone up two difficult but short hills in quick succession. What I was mostly concentrating on at that point was how much worse my cardiovascular health was than I had previously thought. For some reason, this kept me from disengaging one of my feet and I went over in what felt like very slow motion.  As I was lying in someone's driveway, I had two thoughts: "Please don't pull out of your garage, whoever you are" and "I'm really glad I wore this dorky-looking ill-fitting borrowed helmet."

The fun wasn't over, though. I had twisted a muscle in the fall and had to apply an ice pack. I'm used to the gel kind of ice packs, where you can leave them against your skin for an extended period of time. My hosts had actual ice packs, though. Who knew that you could get the equivalent of a bad sunburn from ice? (Well, apparently, everyone but me knows this.)

I'm already planning my next SoCal bike ride, but I think I'll probably bring my bike. And bike shorts, and tennis shoes, and...well, whatever I need to actually be prepared. I'll still be bringing my inexperience, though.
Friends don't let friends look this bad in most pictures. But you do get to see the borrowed helmet.

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