I knew it was wrong to
fake it. But I faked it anyway.
Deep down inside, I knew
I should just come right out and tell David the truth: that it wasn't
working for me, the way it was supposed to work ... that it wasn't
was doing wrong: the problem was all ME
... that I'm sure if we worked
our technique, as a couple, we would eventually be successful. (And
then maybe I would finally understand what all the *hoopla* was about.)
But I didn't tell him any of these things. Instead I faked
to spare his feelings.
And that was wrong.
Privately, I figured
that this was just one of those things, like mental telepathy, or
winning the Miss Universe Pageant -- or actually enjoying
Japanese garage rock from the 60's -- that *I* simply wasn't meant to
Until this weekend, that
It's called "drafting."
In bicycling lingo, it refers to a riding technique where one cyclist
rides behind another -- sometimes directly behind them, sometimes
behind them and a little bit off to the side -- using the front cyclist
as a windbreak. It helps reduce air resistance, meaning that the person
riding in back doesn't have to work as hard. The low pressure pulls you
forward, while the wake pushes you along.
Or at least that's the
David has been talking
about "drafting" ever since we first started riding together last year.
A lot of the riding we do around Alameda (and elsewhere) is shoreline
riding, meaning that we are often dealing with wind. I've
discovered, during my eleven month bike-riding *career,* that wind can
be even more brutal a personal foe than hills, leg cramps and snooty
Spandex terrorists put together. Plunge me headfirst into a stiff
breeze, and I crumple like an Origami swan in a hurricane. So David is
constantly encouraging me to move in closer and ride directly behind
him, taking advantage of the aerodynamic benefits of drafting.
"Isn't that better?"
he'd shout encouragingly, as I trailed a dispirited and exhausted eight
inches from his bumper.
I would just sort of nod
and grimace -- Gosh
yes, honey! Lots better! --
while all the while it felt like some great cosmic leaf-blower was
trained on my little red Schwinn from all directions. It didn't
matter whether I was riding eight inches or eight feet behind him: it
felt exactly the same.
Drafting -- if there
really was such a thing -- was obviously way overrated.
On Saturday morning,
though, we headed back to Fremont to tackle the Alameda
... a scenic, twelve-mile stretch of bike trail running from the
bucolic community of Niles, through the Coyote Hills area and all the
way down to San Francisco Bay. We discovered this trail a couple of
weekends ago -- we rode about half of it that first day, from the
freeway to the bay -- but this time we were going to do the entire
trail and back. Twenty-four miles total.
The first three-quarters
of the ride were mostly uneventful ... and mostly painless. We rode
through miles of peaceful countryside, past rolling green hills,
past fields of mustard in full bloom, past salt marshes populated by
Canadian geese and the occasional egret or hawk. At one point we
stopped and had an impromptu picnic: dried plums, energy bars and
bottled water. An hour and a half later, when we finally made it to the
bay, we paused for a moment to appreciate the spectacular view: the San
Mateo Bridge to our north, the Dumbarton Bridge to our south, San
Francisco across the bay, and -- directly across from where we stood --
Redwood City, Palo Alto and Foster City.
It was the final quarter
of the ride, while pushing our way uphill from the bay through Coyote
Hills, that we ran smack dab into my nemesis.
And not just any wind,
either, but a brutal, bazillion-mile-an-hour wind blowing straight down
off of Sunol Ridge.
It was like riding a
fudking exercise bike. I pedalled and pedalled and pedalled, as fast
and as hard as my little legs would go, and yet I never seemed to
budge an inch. As a matter of fact it almost felt like I was moving backwards.
"Move in behind me!" David shouted, and I reluctantly nosed the Schwinn
into the spot on his rear bumper. For
all the good it's going to do me,
And that's when it
happened. There was a subtle shift in air pressure -- a change in the
*vortex molecules* swirling all around me -- and all of a sudden
pedalling got easier. All of a sudden I felt some forward momentum
again. All of a sudden the pain in my leg muscles and lower back eased
up, and my heart quit threatening to implode in my chest, and I could
breathe semi-normally again.
Holy shidt! I was
Sheltered in the little
cocoon of windbreak, directly behind David, I'd accidentally found a
temporary comfort zone. Don't get me wrong: riding uphill into the wind
still sucked. It was still tough and horrible and painful, and I hated
it and I hated David and I hated whoever had invented bicycles in the
first place. But the degree
of suckiness and horribleness and hatred dipped appreciably.
The reprieve didn't last
for long. A quarter of a mile or so up the trail, I hit a bump and
abruptly slid out of the comfort zone and back into the wind. By this
point, though, the worst of it was over and we were now heading into
the final stretch. Nothing but a gently sloping incline for the next
three or four miles back to the Subaru. But for those couple of minutes
-- when I needed it most -- drafting came to my rescue and made it
possible for me to keep going.
Now I'm a believer.
part is that this drafting stuff isn't all about *me.* When drafting
works the way it's supposed to, it helps the person in front almost as
much as it helps the person riding in back. Two people who are drafting
put out less energy -- yet cover the same distance in the same time --
as two people who aren't drafting.
In other words: it's
possible to enjoy *simultaneous drafting.*
In the meantime, I swear
on a stack of Bay Area Bicyclist Magazines that I'm never ever going to
fake anything with David, ever again. It's wrong and it's stoopid and
it's counterproductive. Our marriage deserves better than that. I'm not
going to pretend something is working when it isn't ... or pretend that
I understand something when I don't ... or pretend that I like
something when I don't. As a matter of fact, as soon as I get home
tonight I'm going to sit David down, look him straight in the eye ...
... and tell him how I really
feel about 60's Japanese garage rock.
throw a rock