December 5, 2012 by mybattlebuddyfitness
It is just like riding a bike…
Written by Melissa Eisner
I’m at the top of Page Street in San Francisco, staring down at what seems to be the descent from Mt. Everest. In reality, it is a little over 100 ft. drop over 2 blocks, but it didn’t matter. I hadn’t been on a bike in over 20 years, I think the last one I rode had a banana seat, streamers off of the ends of the handlebars, and was pink with blue stripes. It may or may not have had a basket in the front with a flower on it (only review of historical documents such as pictures will ever tell the tale). And now, not only was I on a bike, I owned a bike. A bike I had bought 20 minutes earlier at the bicycle shop 3 miles from my house. A bike that I was supposed to ride like a pro in my triathlon debut, scheduled for two months from purchase date of said bike.
Balance and coordination are not my strengths. At the gym, when I have to jump onto something, I am actually jumping down. I can lose my balance with both feet on the ground. I have worked my way up to being able to hop up onto a low bench, do a pushup with one hand on a medicine ball, and jumping lunges (probably 4 in a row without having to re-balance myself). And now, I am balancing on two wheels on a lightweight bicycle looking down the hill.
Well, have to get this over with sooner or later, there are only so many ways I can get home. I test the brakes, hold my breath, slip my feet into the toe clips, and down I go. I am fairly certainly my knuckles turned white given how hard I was holding down the brakes, but down I went. And before I knew it, I had reached the bottom and was merging with other cyclists onto Octavia Street and almost safely home. That’s wasn’t too bad, I thought. Not bad at all.
But I still had to learn how to share the road with other cars without having a panic attack, how to shift the gears on the bike as I went up and down the hills in San Francisco, how to go from the bike lane across traffic in order to make a left hand turn. And none of this was part of the actual training for the triathlon!
After a couple of weeks I had improved. I found myself using my bike more and more, and my car less and less. I was excited to get out and ride my bike. I was seeing the city in a whole new way, from a whole new perspective. I rode around exploring neighborhoods, going much farther and seeing much more than I ever could on foot.
Then I rode across the Golden Gate Bridge! It was breathtaking and exhilarating, joining in part of the cultural fabric of 75 years of individuals crossing the bridge, and then riding down into Sausalito and over to Tiburon. 25 miles on my bike, the longest I had ever gone! I felt I had come alive, I had travelled that distance all on my own.
I have since completed two triathlons, and I definitely felt the strongest of the 3 events for me was the bike. I have also biked Denver (40 miles crisscrossing the city), and done part of the Katy Trail in Missouri. I love my bike, it is my friend, and my sanctuary when I want to escape. You can’t be on the phone, you can’t listen to music, you can abandon all technology and become one with the world around you when you are on your bike. And it is just that easy!