Sunday, June 8, 2008

How to Deflate One's Ego

So Friday, I actually did it. After the last couple of years, in which taking the van to the dealership for maintenance turned into a game of three-card-monte as we tried to shift child-safety seats from one vehicle to another, we finally put into operation our plan to end this problem once and for all: I took the van in, with my new bike in the back. Then I rode the bike home while the dealership worked on the van.

I'd been wondering how I'd do. It seemed like a bit of a long ride, on some pretty major streets. I haven't been doing a whole lot of exercise lately, and I was a little concerned that I would wipe myself out if I wasn't careful--very bad, especially since I knew that I'd have to return on bike later in the day. So I took it a little easy. And there is some construction going on over part of the route, with the traffic routed onto the bike lane; I was sharing the road with some mighty big vehicles that were riding awfully close. Still I persevered.

You know, when you go everywhere in a car, you tend to see the world as a whole lot more flat than it really is. When you are on a bike, that illusion goes away really fast, but it is replaced by another one: like one's grandparents, you start to see the whole of existence as uphill both ways. Anyway, I think the dealership is actually at a lower altitude than my home (which is, after all, in a city called Citrus Heights). So when I finally got home from the dealership, my legs felt like finger-Jello.

But I'd done it. I was halfway done with my trek! (Note: trek in this context refers to the voyage, not the bike manufacturer. Besides, my bike is a Fuji, not a Trek.)

I felt good.
Ok, I thought; maybe I'm not ready for the Tour de France yet, but give me time. :-)

So just before lunch the dealership called me back. The van was ready! I decided that I'd rather not have to ride on a full stomach, so I'd pick up the van before eating lunch. I hopped on the bike and took off.

This time the ride felt a little easier. I figured there were two possible reasons for this: either my body is getting in shape really fast, or the trip back to the dealership is more downhill than up.

And this time I tried to time my trip. I didn't do so precisely, but my best guess is that it took upwards of fifteen, downwards of twenty minutes. It also seemed to me that there were fewer bike lanes on the outward journey than the homeward one. One doesn't often notice these things, until one has to share the road with all those big, annoying vehicles.

(Instead of being one of those big, annoying vehicles, in which case you think: Man, those cyclists have a death wish.)

So I got the van and I drove home. This time, I decided to keep a close eye on the van's trip meter, to see exactly what the distance was. Would it be closer to ten miles? Eight? Five?

Four point four.

That's it?

I got all worked up over a measley four-point-freakin'-four miles? So here I am, fretting about how I'm going to get my van over to a dealership and back, when I think it's oh-so-far away, when in fact I could have walked the stupid thing in less than an hour and a half?

Man, I feel like such a wuss. Ok, forget the Tour de France. Any halfway respectable bike race in the land goes, like, ten times as far minimum (sometimes thirty times as far). Yeah, I'm about as likely to do the Tour de France as I am the Iditarod.

Four point four. Of course, to be fair, I actually rode that distance at a rate of approximately 15 miles per hour, which isn't that bad; and I rode that distance both ways, so that works out to eight-point-eight on the day. With a three-hour rest in the middle so I don't get my heart rate too high, mind you.


And to add insult to injury, I have conclusively demonstrated that me Bums are definitely not made of Steel. Regarding that bike seat, that I mentioned a few posts back: How do people sit on that really skinny thing for extended lengths of time? I was feeling a little tender back there after a mere 8.8 miles; how do people sit on those things for 30 or 120 miles or whatever it is? As per Arby's comment in my last post, that is not a good kind of hurt. The term "Lift and Separate" is intended to apply to an entirely different part of the anatomy. I find the last couple of days, I've been trying to find the most padded surfaces to sit on that I can find.

You know what it is, though: It wouldn't hurt so bad if I wasn't six-foot-one and 200 pounds. Now, 200 pounds isn't an outrageous weight for someone who's six-foot-one, but it's a whole lot more than I weighed the last time I rode a bike for any distance. I have, quite literally, put on about fifty-five pounds since high school, or thirty pounds since college. I was quite the beanpole then. That makes a difference when you're trying to sit on this little wedge.

Anyway, even with my ego duly deflated, I'm happy with my purchase. Well, I'm pretty happy with my purchase. Of course, as anyone with a new hobby can attest, you're never truly happy until you have all the accessories to go along with the purchase. I can see now why cyclists wear goggles, for one thing; even when you're just a lardbutt like me, tooling around at fifteen miles an hour, the wind on your eyes makes it hard to see. And I can start to see why people use those funny biking shoes with the pedal clips. And it would probably be nice to have a slightly bigger seat (to match my slightly bigger seat). And one of those water-bottle racks would be right handy. And... and...

How do people ever find happiness in their lives without having all this stuff? ;-)

(Note: this is a Rhetorical Question. This question is pure sarcasm. Do not attempt to answer it in the comments.)

Yes, I'm happy with my purchase. And if I can get in the habit of giving it a spin even for ten minutes or so each evening (since that's about all I expect my family duties will spare me), I might actually have a chance to lose a little of that deadweight and tighten up those other parts of my anatomy.

At least until the rainy season hits, that is. Then I'll have to think of something else to do with myself.

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