Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week Twenty

Event: Bike ride to Target

Earlier this year I got a new bicycle.  For the record I haven't ridden a bike since the early 80's.  Back then I would hit the streets on my hot pink 'Sweet Thunder' Huffy bike complete with banana seat and a basket for my ET doll.  My new bike, however, is nothing like Sweet Thunder.  Don't get me wrong, I don't snap my feet onto the pedals like Lance Armstrong, but it's a nice hybrid of a mountain bike and a city bike.  Perfect for riding around the neighborhood, on trails, etc.  So today I decided to break it in. 

I went to the store yesterday and managed to spend $80 on everything under the sun - except paper towels.  You don't realize how much you use paper towels until you're out.  This morning, I went to grab a paper towel about 17 times before deciding I couldn't get through the day without them.  Instead of driving to the store to get one item, I thought, "Why not ride my bike!"  Excited by the thought, I went to grab a backpack only to realize - I don't own a backpack.  Ah ha!  No problem - I'll ride my bike to Target, buy a backpack AND paper towels and I'll be set!  So, with that, I grabbed my keys and cash, put on my stylish pink/purple helmet (in honor of Sweet Thunder) and hit the road.  One small problem.  I made it half way down my street and my thighs were rubbing together so bad I had created enough friction to start a fire.  This was going to be a loooooong bike ride.

Pushing on, I made it two blocks before having to shift gears to the easiest setting - gear 1 on the left and gear 1 on the right.  I think an old man on a rascal could have passed me.  Super.  Not giving up, I pressed on.  Slow and steady.  By the way, I have a new love in life - hills.  The ones with a downward slope.  Anyway, making it to the main street I needed to be on I went about 100 feet before realizing the sidewalk I was on ended.  So I looked across the street and found it didn't have a sidewalk.  "Where are cyclists supposed to ride their bikes?"  I yelled.  (Not sure who I was yelling at).  And because I've cursed so many cyclists for taking up a lane on the road I was not about to do that.  Instead, I rode through grass, gravel, concrete and parking lots, finally making it to Target.  I've never been so happy to see that dang bull's eye.

Happy to be breathing, me and my sweet thunder thighs walked into Target looking like I had just run a marathon.  I was a hot and sweaty mess and was walking like I just got off a horse.  I immediately grabbed a bottle of water and chugged it as I walked through the women's yoga department.  Biker shorts to prevent friction and chafing - check.  I then went to the luggage department.  Grey and hot pink backpack to carry biker shorts, paper towels and water - check. 

I checked out, stuffed my backpack, hopped back on my bike and headed home.  I didn't make it through the parking lot before feeling that old, familiar pain in my thighs, but my pride helped me push on.  Deciding to take an alternate route (with sidewalks!) I had to ride through a major intersection first.  I lined up behind 3 cars and waited for the light to change.  I could feel the cars line up behind me, just certain they were saying what I always said, "Get off the road and find a sidewalk!"  Little did they know, I was trying.  As the light changed to green, I admittedly got a slow start, but made it through the light just as it turned yellow.  As I rode through, I glanced to my right and noticed a police officer sitting at the light.  Oh great.  I'm probably breaking 1,000 laws and I don't even know it.  This will be interesting.  Making my way through the light the jerk behind me sped through the intersection and passed me as we made our way down the street.  As soon as he passed me though, he slammed on his breaks.  What a jerk!  He was in such a hurry to pass me, only to pull over right in front of me.  That's when I noticed the flashing lights...he was being pulled over by the cop!

I couldn't help but feel a little guilty - did my slow start cause him to run a red light?  No matter, I pedaled for my life hoping my mad cycling skills would keep me from being caught - by him or the cops.

Going at least 70 mph (or maybe 7 mph), I hit a crack in the sidewalk, skidded on a sweet gum ball that had dropped from a tree and almost lost control as I over-negotiated a weave around a stick.  Slowing to a slow and steady roll, fear turned into elation when I realized the rest of my journey home was downhill...and cop free.

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