RoCkInG The Boat!

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride It Where I Like

So, I bought a bicycle a couple of months ago - nothing fancy, A used Raleigh Mojave 2.0 that a friend needed to sell for quick cash. But since then, I haven't really had time to do anything with it until yesterday, when I added a few doo-dads and gee-gaws to make it a little more road-worthy (pedal stirrups, mud guards, a new lock, & lights), and finally took it out for a test-drive down to the Theatre for our monthly late-night cabaret.

I'm still a little sore.

First off, I haven't been on a bicycle in, well, I'm not exactly sure how long, at least 9 years by my estimate. I haven't owned a bike since I moved onto the boat, which would have been back in July of 2000, and it was stolen right off the bike rack at the marina shortly thereafter. I can't recall having been on one since then.

So, there's that period of adjustment, getting used to the new center of gravity, and balance, and all that. Fortunately, several years of scooter riding helps somewhat, but not completely; you're much higher up in the air, so the center of gravity rises accordingly. Also, the balance feels very different because the bike itself is so much lighter in comparison.

Then there's simply the act of pedaling; getting the seat and handlebars adjusted to balance between comfort and efficiency. Right now, the seat feels about right, but the handlebars need to come up quite a bit, so that will get fixed today.

Seattle is a city of hills (seven, according to the local history, just like Rome; you can spot the newbies when they try to name them, and get into arguments with the natives over which of Seattle's currently existing and/or long-vanished promontories qualify as the "original seven") and I happen to live on the back side of one of the larger ones, while just about everything I need to get to is on the other side. Fortunately, I'm close to the top, but getting to the summit is a somewhat steep climb for those few blocks; going over the first time, I ended up switchbacking over a few side streets that have a little gentler slope than the main street, although I did manage to make it up Union on the return trip. Still, it was huffing-and-puffing all the way to the top; but then, that's sort of the point, isn't it?

Of course, riding on hills also means dealing with gravity - going both directions - and having prior experience in terms of being hit on these same hills on "Little Nellie", I'm just short of paranoid when it comes to traffic, particularly coming off side-streets, alleys, and driveways. So, I probably won't be doing any speedy descents anytime soon, given that I know what it feels like to fall off a scooter at 20 mph, and that I'm sporting even less in the way of protective gear (the obligatory helmet aside) which means I can anticipate major "road burn" - or worse - in the event of a crash. And it's a given that, until I get in better shape, climbing is going to be the hardest part of the deal for a while.

But, still, it's a start. I may not get up to the level I was at back in high school, when I could do 70 miles in a single go, climb two-mile long hills without getting winded, and looked not unlike those bike racers from "The Triplets of Belleville": legs thick as Douglas Fir trunks, and a toothpick-skinny upper torso (why, oh why did someone not explain to me the benefits of upper body training back in those days?). But, if in the process it increases my lung capacity, improves my cardio, and burns off a few pounds, well I won't be complaining.


Posted byCOMTE on 10:08 AM

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