Janet Urquhart: Cycling: Going nowhere fast
Well, I’m back in the saddle. And my butt hurts.
I think I need to replace my bike seat with something wider, something that better matches my physique, say an aircraft carrier. Also, what is with those tight-fitting bike shorts? If you
look good in those, you don’t need to ride a bike.
Bike shorts should be baggy. Then they could put some serious padding in there. There ought to be like 10 inches of foam sewn into those babies. They should be so springy, you bounce up and down like a dashboard figurine whenever you hit a bump in the road to fitness.
My training regimen, in preparation for tomorrow’s Ride for the Pass, was derailed by this spring’s sketchy weather. I set an early, blistering pace in carbo-loading, but lagged behind in actual bike time.
As a result, my actual bike time in a ride up Independence Pass might be measured in days, rather than hours or – I despise these riders – minutes and seconds.
There are few endeavors quite so unsatisfying as riding in place – pedaling furiously and going nowhere fast. It’s especially disheartening when you’re on an actual bicycle, not a stationary instrument of torture.
With my road bike in need of repair, I’ve been riding my mountain bike a few miles up the pass. I like to tell myself it’s the fat tires on the bike, not the one around my waist, slowing me down.
The Ride for the Pass is aptly named. Everyone passes me. It’s like I’m not even moving. Lanky, rippling guys with bike seats elevated to the level of my chest cruise past effortlessly. They show off hard knots in their calves as they pull away – muscles that have never made an appearance in my legs.
But the ultimate humiliation came earlier this week, in that brief downhill stretch just before the pass gate. A guy passed me riding with no hands. Well, he had hands, he just wasn’t steering with either of them.
The fact that I can’t ride a bike without at least one hand on the handlebars has rankled me since childhood, when all my contemporaries seemed to master this feat of balance.
Anyway, this guy starts changing his clothes while he’s riding his bike. He pulls off layers of clothing until he’s bare-chested, then puts some of them back on and ties the rest around his waist. He tucks things here and there – I think he was accessorizing – before starting the climb on the other side of the gate.
All the while he’s engaged in this rearranging of his ensemble like a runway model, and riding with no hands, he’s pulling away from me. I’m grunting and pedaling down this gentle downhill grade, wiping sweat from my brow, and I’m losing ground to Mr. Fashion Show.
Then he got back to seriously riding his bike and I never saw him again, unless he was one of the brightly colored Lycra blurs that zoomed past me on the way down.
Not only do other riders pass me like I’m standing still when I’m laboring uphill, they whiz by me on the downhill run, as well. This is because I’m afraid of speed. I brake all the way down, like a semi driver hoping to avoid the runaway truck ramp on the interstate.
I get passed so often I should have flashing yellow lights and a “slow moving vehicle” sign on my back.
Hey, it’s better than “wide load.”
[Janet Urquhart misses her stingray bike with the banana seat. Her column appears on Fridays.]
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