Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting back to bicycling

A little more than a year ago, I decided to be a better biker by upgrading to clipless pedals, which are really pedals with clips that attach to special biking shoes; the aim is to increase efficiency in riding. I had been riding with my friend Mike, and with my regular pedals (even though they had toe clips), I had trouble keeping up with him. The clipless pedals (which really should be called clip-ons) always scared me, but the die-hard bikers swear by them, so I gave them a try.

I practiced first riding around the driveway. I fell over a few times when I didn’t get my foot out fast enough, but I felt confident enough to give it a go. My friend Rook originally introduced me to the kind of biking that amounted to more than toodling around the neighborhood. We became a couple in college, lost touch, and got reacquainted after he read a New York Times piece that I had written about my illness. Now we’re really good friends. Back then, he helped me choose my first road bike, a Motobecane, to which he added special components. We took long bike rides, 80 miles a day or so, which were fun except for when we got stuck in the rain. So Rook was the first person to ride with me when I test drove my new pedals.

It was a glorious June day. We rode about 35 miles through the beautiful Western Massachusetts countryside, pulling up alongside each other and chatting part of the way. I only fell off once, when we were so engrossed in conversation that I wasn’t thinking about my pedals when we came to a stop sign. You need to get one foot out before a stop, but both of mine were in. I panicked and fell. But I wasn’t hurt and it was kind of funny, so I just laughed.

That was my last ride before my relapse. The bike has been in the garage, accumulating dust, for more than a year. I am two and a half months past my third transplant, and I want to start some doing some easy bike rides. But not with those pedals!
Rob, my friend at the trusty nearby bike shop, Highland Bike, exchanged the new pedals for a pair of “normal” ones with toe clips. He dusted off the bike, made a few adjustments and pronounced it ready to go.

I’m going to try it tomorrow.

I guess I have pedaled backwards. I upgraded, then downgraded.
But I’m not going to let myself be critical of myself. I’m just happy to be out in the world and able to ride.
Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards.

1 comment:

pj said...

Back-pedaling has its uses. Have a great ride today.