I haven’t written a column in a while. It’s not that I don’t love you any more, it’s because I’ve been spending so much time working on Father O’ Mary’s! Tapas and Tinis Fashion Show on August 27, Bat N’ Rouge-September 9, and The Race for the Ridge-October 8-9, all benefiting the Arcata Ridge Trail Project! (a little shameless plug).
Things have changed a lot over the past few months. I still do Fit Club with Lucifer aka Andy Salatnay, my friend and trainer that still manages to kick my ass every Friday but since summer started, many of my workouts have moved outside. I probably shouldn’t even call them workouts anymore. They are more like activities or hobbies. Now, I am actually going somewhere for all of my effort.
I’ve continued to run and have shaved eight minutes off of my mile (yes I was that SLOW). Being smaller is a huge advantage both in terms of effort and reduced bouncing. My old “armor” no longer fits but I don’t have to special order a new one this time (yes I was that big).
Now for the BIG NEWS: Stay off the sidewalks, cuz I’m on two wheels. That’s right, I bought a real bike!
It all started last year when I helped Kirk Cohune and Justin Brown with the Race for the Ridge. Back then I would have never imagined myself on a bike except in brief fantasies every year when I helped with the annual AIDS Ride. As time has passed and my weight dropped I have become more ambitious. I am now committed to riding in the 2012 AIDS LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles – that’s almost 600 miles in seven days!
First things first, however. I need to buy a bike AND make it down the street without killing myself, any wildlife or an innocent pedestrian. Unlike a spin bike, my new bike will require balance, skill and we mustn’t forget the helmet!
Justin from Revolution Bicycle Repair realized I had a little bit of anxiety about taking off the training wheels and making the purchase, so he came to my office with a catalog and we had a counseling session about my needs and wants for this bike. Together we selected a model that suits me and the very important properly fitted helmet. While I anxiously awaited delivery, I perused the web searching for every pointer I could find about bike safety, bike riding, and mostly how to keep my butt from hurting while keeping my balance.
Fears of my first bike accident came forward... the familiar thoughts of why why why surged through my brain. When I was about seven years I was riding a two wheeler and actually crashed into a fire hydrant. NO, the water didn’t pour out of it but my bike was stuck, ruined and need to be extracted. Of course my family and friends still talk about it. Talk about humiliation!
It’s Saturday and time for my first REAL ride. I met Michael Weiss and Danny Baer at Arcata HealthSPORT. My anxiety begins to rise. I’m burning calories just standing in the parking lot, my heart rate was up, I was sweating, and the very familiar thoughts of why why why were racing through my brain. I securely strap my helmet to my chin, I put on my sunglasses, I gaze at myself in the car mirror--yes indeed, I look like a bike rider. I mount my seat and was ready to take direction from Michael and Danny. The plan was to ride through the Arcata Bottoms all the way to Clam Beach. OK, the boyz said that it was a pretty easy ride and I had no choice but to trust them, after all, they’re REAL riders and together we’ll be riding in the AIDS LifeCycle ride next year.
We start riding. I saw the road from a much different perspective. I must’ve looked like a bike rider who knew what she was doing because the cars were racing by me. I NEED a big sign that says Student Rider so they will give me a bit more space. Personally, as a driver, I have the utmost respect for pedestrians and riders and slow down or move to another lane. Apparently most people don’t and it’s kind of freaking me out.
I’m pedaling my feet, I’m switching gears, I’m staying upright on two wheels, and I’m keeping up with the boyz.. OK, this is fun. Wait, what’s wrong? Oh, Danny has a flat tire. Now what? Do we call AAA and have them change the tire? Michael saves the day, he opens his big bag of tricks and in there he has a pump, a tube, and even CO2 and begins to fix the tire. I’m in shock, who knew that bike riders (especially Michael) were handy?
As if being a bike rider wasn’t enough, would I, a Jewish girl from Michigan have to learn to change my own tire too? Up until this moment I hadn’t given it ANY thought but I knew that I better watch carefully so I can be self-sufficient and cool like the boyz! Within a few minutes the tire was fixed and we’re off again only to have the same thing happen again, then again and again. Four flat tires in only a few miles. Maybe Michael isn’t that handy after all. It turns out that there was something wrong with the bike rim.
In spite of the flats we had a wonderful day of riding to Clam Beach. I’m having fun, I’m staying upright, I’m playing with the gears, I’m not running over any pedestrians, and I’m starting to like this. It’s nothing like spinning, I’m not sitting in a pool of sweat because I’m actually riding over it and thankfully my ass is not on fire either.
We passed through cow pastures and met nice ranchers along our route that actually waved AND spoke to us. We made our way on the Hammond Trail. “Over the bridge and through the woods” somehow got stuck in my brain. So not only was this Jewish girl on a bike, she had Christmas songs running through her brain. I rode on, loving every second of the fresh air, sunshine and great friends.
I can’t remember the last time I exercised without my iPod blasting in my ears. We were talking, looking at scenery and really enjoying the day without a chorus of why why why ringing in my ears. When we got back to HealthSPORT, I was feeling pretty high off the endorphins you get from riding and had no idea of how far we actually rode. Michael has this fancy machine (odometer) on his bike that said we rode 25.6 miles. I couldn’t believe it. Other than my really really bad “helmet hair,” I wasn’t a bit tired, my butt wasn’t sore, and I felt like I could have gone longer.
We made plans to meet the following week for an adventure through Elk River and the Headwaters and I can hardly wait!
On my way home, I realized that I had one more obstacle to overcome. I was starving! I mean really, really, really hungry. In the old days I would have done a quick drive through but I’m sooooo much smarter. I called home and ordered Briar (my husband) to fire up the grill and BBQ something healthy immediately. I needed to consume calories fast or I’d be in trouble. We ate and I shared my first biking adventure.
Briar, being the “team player” that he is, decided that he wasn’t going to miss out on all the fun so he too decided to buy a bike. I called Revolution (good thing that I’ve got Justin’s number on speed dial in my cell) and ordered a second bike. I’m sitting in my office and Kirk Cohune shows up on a shinny bike to consider for Briar. Now that is what I call service. Plumley and I go outside to check out the bike and I’m sooooo excited when I see it, I actually lost my balance and “almost” took a little tumble into the bushes! Since I’m an “athlete” now, I was able to catch myself before falling to the ground.
Briar’s bike is here and we’re all going out for a ride this weekend. Hopefully, he’ll be able to keep up with us AND stay on his two wheels otherwise I’ll leave him in the dust – remember he did take a little tumble during STEP class! Who knew, besides all the people that are REAL bike ridersb that being on two wheels could be soooo much fun! Justin is blinging out my bike with bottle holders and other needed accessories that I need for riding and I’m saving my fancy clip-in shoes for spin class. Hopefully by the end of summer I’ll be ready to clip in and ride like the wind.
Next up... preparation for the Arcata Ridge Trail Hike!
Debi Farber-Bush is making helmet hair fashionable.