May 8, 2001
Keeping My Mouth Shut

We were ten minutes into an early-evening ride around Bay Farm Island last night ... a scenic, tranquil ride alongside gently-lapping waters, with the San Francisco skyline directly across the bay ... when something suddenly smashed into the side of my face.

It felt like a volleyball, maybe, or a lesser planet. For a moment I came perilously close to losing my balance, I was so startled by the sudden impact. But as it turned out it was just a bug, imploding on my face.

It missed my open mouth by half an inch.

I wiped the guts off my cheek and thought That could have been *dinner.* And I vowed to try and be more vigilant about riding close-mouthed.

There is other stuff I'm starting to figure out, the further we move into the whole bike-riding-as-way-of-life process. For instance, I'd probably better start putting sunscreen on my arms (and if I ever work up the nerve to squeeze myself into a pair of shorts, I'll have to start slathering it on my lily-white legs, too). I've been so careful about protecting my face from those bad nasty California UV rays that I sorta forgot I had other body parts that might need protecting.

A few other things I'm learning, along the way: 

  • Riding uphill sucks. The good news, however, is that an uphill is generally followed by a DOWNHILL.

  • I totally *get* the idea of gears now. Remember just a couple of weeks back, when David was first trying to sell me on the idea of riding, and I said that I would consider a bike as long as it didn't require any sort of shifting? (I believe that my exact words were "NO ten-speeds! No twenty-speeds! No 'SPEEDS,' period!")

    Let's just say that I've had a change of heart in the past two weeks.

  • Riding through the sprinklers is actually a lot more fun than riding around them.

  • There are people, both on and off the road, who just plain hate bicyclists. Nothing you do is going to change that. (I should know: I used to be one of those people.) You can smile and wave pleasantly, politely announcing "Passing on your left"  ... you can smile in faux-admiration at their ugly dog/their ugly baby/their ugly jogging shorts ... you can follow ALL rules of traffic safety and common courtesy ... and it doesn't matter. They're STILL gonna hope you get hit by a WebVan truck.

  • Waterproof mascara definitely appears to be the way to go here. Unfortunately, I have yet to find one that doesn't 1.) cost more than roundtrip airfare to TicTac and/or 2.) go on like spackle.  Any suggestions?

  • One year from now, when I am a more seasoned cyclist, I am going to be extremely kind and generous and forgiving towards obvious bicycle newbies. I will never tailgate. I will never force them off a narrow bike path. I will never zoom around them at a bazillion miles an hour, with absolutely zero warning or acknowledgement. And I will never snicker when they're pushing the Schwinn uphill ... even if I come back and they're STILL pushing it, forty minutes later.

  • Here are the things I'm getting better at, the more I practice: starting, stopping, maintaining my balance, steering, shifting gears, keeping up with my cycling partner, negotiating small bumps in the road, climbing short hills, riding with one hand (while the other hand adjusts the bike helmet/shakes off the carpal tunnel syndrome/discreetly tucks the bra stap back inside the T-shirt), slowing down, speeding up, smiling cutely at fellow cyclists (Are we cool or what?) and riding for longer distances without tiring/complaining/praying for tire failure.

  • Here are the things I still suck at: hairpin turns, looking over my shoulder, negotiating large bumps in the road, climbing steep hills, and forgetting about how my butt must look from *behind.*

  • Memorizing my bicycle lock combination was a snap. There are three two-digit numbers in the series. I remember it like this: 1.) My age when I had my first C-section, 2.) My age when I flipped that coin and signed up for AOL instead of Prodigy, and 3.) My age the summer I grew four bra sizes in three months.

  • I understand now what they mean by Drink before you're thirsty and eat before you're hungry. I am constantly reaching for David's water bottleAnd since our weekday rides generally must take place after work, but before dinner, I try to have some fruit or cereal or a SlimFast *Close Your Eyes & Pretend I'm A Butterfinger OK?* Snack Bar before we head out on the ol' bike trail.

    Unless, of course, I want to snack on a couple of bugs along the way.

    Then all I have to to do is ride with my mouth open.

  • one year ago: no advice is good advice
    two years ago: fluidity

    throw a rock