to go: 656.59
little green sports
car has been dogging me for a couple of blocks now.
can see it out of the
corner of my eye, trailing along behind me like a bad reputation. I'll
bet that if I kicked out of my toe clips, I could reach over
and nudge the car's front bumper with my foot: that's how closely it's following.
Mildly irked -- this is the abandoned
Alameda Navy Base, after all: it's not like there's any shortage of
road space around here -- I turn to give this tailgating moron my very
best withering glare.
don't you just go around
driver, a young
man dressed in work-out clothes, leans across the front seat of his
car and rolls down the passenger side window to speak to me.
me, Ma'am," he says, very politely. "Do you happen to know where the
basketball courts are?"
... OK. So he's not
a tailgater. Or a stalker. Or an AT&T Broadband Internet
salesman. I still am not inclined to talk to strangers -- particularly
strangers of the young buff male persuasion -- out here in The Middle
should probably ask
my husband," I tell him, gesturing
vaguely ahead of me, up the road. Asking *me* for directions is sort of
like asking Anna Nicole Smith for help with your Calculus homework.
Plus I want to make it very clear that I'm not out here riding alone: I
have a husband in the vicinity. A very tall, very muscular, very
protective husband. Sure, he may
be riding a bazillion miles ahead of me at the moment -- ever since he
got the new cleated pedals and the groovy new bike shoes last month,
he's become a regular Lance Armstrong on the trail -- but technically
says the young
man, rolling up his window. I watch as he slowly rolls his fancy-pants
sports car forward, a couple of blocks, until he's driving directly
parallel with David. By the time I catch up with the two of them, the
driver has rolled down his window, once again, and is asking David for
help finding the basketball court.
David can't hear
sorry," David says,
shaking his head. He has slowed his bike down to a near standstill,
balancing it in one spot like a unicycle, and now he is leaning
towards the open car window, straining to hear the driver's question
over the sound of the engine. "You're looking for what?"
just about to
explain to David that the guy is looking for the basketball court --
not that I've ever actually seen
a basketball court around here, that I can recall -- when all of a
sudden the unthinkable happens:
David begins to lose
bike suddenly begins
to wobble out from under him,
just a little bit at first, but then
with alarming *tipsiness.* I can see him fighting to unclip his shoes
from the bike pedals, so he can plant a foot on the ground and brace
himself, but the stiff new cleats are stuck and he is unable to yank
himself free in time.
next thing I know,
he is tipping over to one side ... heading straight for the pavement
six-hundred-plus miles short of our 2,002 in 2002 -- not enough to lose
heart, yet, but not exactly enough to begin planning the victory
celebration, either -- and David is already talking about next
year's riding goals.
"No mileage goals," I
tell him flatly.
After we reach 2,002,
I'm all done with odometers and
calculators and mileage charts posted on the refrigerator and in the
bathroom and over the bed, thankyouverymuch.
That's fine, he says.
He's thinking more in terms of *fun* next year, anyway. Adventure.
Exploration. Personal growth. Photo opps. For one thing, he says, I
should probably think about moving up to cleated pedals soon. I nod:
I've been thinking about that myself. Now that I've gotten the hang of
the toeclips, I'm interested in that next level of power. I'm looking
at pedals that are cleated on one side and "regular" (non-cleated) on
the other side as an option.
For another thing, he
adds, we should
probably try to get me on a road bike by next spring. Something with
more oomph than what I'm riding now.
"You'll need it when
we're climbing hills next year," he says.
I don't know about
I've grown very fond of The Butt-D-Luxe (or, as I've come to think of
Little Bike That *FootNotes* Bought")
these past few months. It's my very favorite bike of all time: even
more than the ugly purple Stingray or the uglier orange 10-speed. I'm
not sure I'm interested in swapping it out, quite so soon. There are
still a couple of higher-end gears I haven't experimented with yet.
I've got the seat broken in exactly the way I like it. I'm adding a
second water-bottle cage this weekend. Why would I want to change
things around again?
Plus who the heck
said anything about doing HILLS
next year, anyway??
He smiles serenely as
flipping through the latest Performance Bicycle catalog. "It's just
something you might want to think about," he says.
Yeah. OK. I'll 'think
about it.' I'll think about it the same way I think about ALL
of his suggestions ... especially the suggestions that seem especially
scary or harebrained or undoable, the first time he suggests them.
buy you a bike, Honey! I know you haven't ridden since the Nixon
Administration, but it'll be fun!
Let's sweat off all your makeup, flatten your hair, squeeze you into an
incredibly unflattering pair of black Spandex shorts ... and then go
with my PARENTS!
go for a quick twenty/thirty/forty/fifty-miler before breakfast!
put some clothes on and go rent a tandem! It's our HONEYMOON,
sign up for The Mt. Diablo *Suicide-or-Emergency-Room (Whichever Comes
First)* Double-Century Ride!
ride two thousand miles this year! And then let's tell everybody
the planet that we're doing it, so we feel all kinds of weird
embarrassing pressure to succeed!
(Oh wait: that last
was *my* idea.)
Like all of David's
'ideas,' I'll think about the idea of a road bike. I'll gnaw off a
couple of my best fingernails, stewing over it. I'll give him
43,897,621 reasons why it can't be done/why we can't afford it/why I'm
not ready yet/why we should just keep things the way they are.
And then I'll probably
break down and agree to it.
driver of the sports
car and I watch in horror as David topples over, in slow motion, like a
mighty redwood felled by earthquake. He hits the pavement with a solid
thunk, his Cannondale landing on top of him. For a moment or two he
just lays there on the ground ... not moving, not saying a word, not
even breathing, as far as I can detect.
a shot I'm out of
the toeclips and off The Butt-D-Luxe, rushing to his side.
you OK?" I shout,
heart in mouth. This is such a shocking reversal of roles: usually it's
on the ground, with my bike laying on top of me, and him
doing the rushing-and-rescuing. To my relief, though, he seems to be
OK. A little banged-up, maybe -- he's got gravel in his hair and on his
chin, and one of his knees is skinned and bloody -- but otherwise he's
fine. Gingerly, he disentangles from the cleated pedals and rights
himself and his bike.
driver of the sports
car seems genuinely embarrassed. "Sorry, man," he says, leaning out the
car window to see if David is all right. "My fault."
brushes the dirt
off the seat of his bike shorts. "Don't worry about it," he says
cheerfully. "I'm just trying to get used to the new cleats." And he
gives the young driver a good-natured, just-between-us-athletes shrug. You
know how it is.
moment later the
little green sports car zooms off down the road, still in search
of the elusive basketball court.
side-by-side down the abandoned main drag of the Navy Base, headed for
home, I worriedly ask him again if he's OK. No sprains? No contusions?
No broken bones? Nothing I need to kiss or immobilize or douse with
iodine and scrub with a good stiff Brillo pad?
me that he's fine. "It's good for you to see me fall down once in a
while," he says matter-of-factly. He explains that it's important for
me to see that every cyclist has trouble getting used to unfamiliar new
equipment -- like cleated pedals -- and that even the most seasoned
cyclist experiences the occasional *Tipsy Moment.*
"Plus," he adds, with a
sly grin. "Did you notice how fast you got out of those toeclips?"
got a point there.
Six months ago, we both
would have been picking gravel out of our teeth, right about now.
I'll be ready for
that road bike next spring, after all.
throw a rock