Monday, November 24, 2014

Bicycle, Oh Bicycle

On Friday, I arrived home to the sight of a cardboard box measuring roughly 54" x 8" x 26". As someone who has bought and sold no less than a million bicycles (only a slight exaggeration), I knew exactly what was now sitting, waiting to be assembled, on our stoop. My beautiful (and hopefully much more ride-able) Rodriguez was just a few tape tears and staple pulls away from my anxiously awaiting hands.
I was a bit concerned about the long slash in the box, but it turned out to be a needless worry - purely superficial as the contents were well secured and safe.
It's tough not to act like a giddy four-year-old when a bicycle arrives, and because this one has felt so long in the making, it was even more exciting. Thankfully, no one but the dogs had to watch me behaving like an absolute imbecile - though I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have cared who was around at that moment. It took everything in me not to jump up and down like my younger brother used to do while watching The A-Team as a kid (man, he really loved that show).

This box was holding the contents of my seemingly squandered bicycle year. Oh sure, I have been on bikes, but this package is what I'd believed would arrive many months ago. It was the hope that there is a near-perfect road bike available for me out in the world. This freight that had arrived on such a perfectly beautiful autumn day was holding the answers, I hoped.

Not that I was putting any pressure on this bike at all.

Okay, really there was a huge burden being put on this bike and its maker, but I just couldn't seem to help myself. I kept reminding myself to slow down, take it easy and remember that it is after all just a bicycle.
As I drug the box into the house, I opened the top flap to view the contents inside. Anxiously, I snapped a photo and sent it to Twitter. Hey, I had to share my excitement with someone, and while I realize no one cares about the dark contents which were hardly distinguishable in the photo, it did help calm me down (though just a tad).
I went on a hunt for my pedals, saddle, bar tape and handlebars - only half of which I found. After my searches were only partially fulfilled, I started annoying poor Sam at work, wondering what had become of the rest of my stuff. He assured me he'd hunt it all down when he got home, but I wanted to have it all waiting and ready to go.
The Golden stands (well, lays actually) guard over the Rodriguez
Truthfully, I had planned to just put the remaining pieces on myself, but because I couldn't find what I needed, I decided to just wait until his return home.

It felt like a never-ending afternoon.

Eventually, he did make it home (I swear he took the long way just to torment me a few minutes longer) and assembly was fairly quick and painless as the bike had been shipped pretty much whole, with the exception of needing to put a few items together again. I must be the most impatient person on the planet though, as I hovered waiting for final assembly.

I share all of this primarily because as much as I am aware there are a few of you waiting for reports on the ride, I want you know to know that I share your excitement and anticipation - but this is not a post quite yet about the bicycle itself. Hopefully, knowing that my expectation is just as high as anyone else will help alleviate some of the waiting, and I appreciate patience as I give this bike a few trial runs (at least) before providing thoughts or impressions.

Instead, I am having a bit of a crisis when it comes to riding a bike in a more general sense.

In our household, we have had many conversations over the last several months regarding the ways riding a bike has changed our lives. For the most part, riding a bike has been extremely beneficial and the thought of suddenly not riding would likely be devastating to our overall well-being.

There is an exception to this, however. When it comes to using a GPS or tracking device, I seem to have lost my way in many respects, particularly in reference to distance rides. I have mentioned in the past that sometimes tracking my rides creates a weird situation in which I feel pressured to do things that I wouldn't normally. I find myself upset or struggling if speeds aren't what I thought they should have been or if the distance falls short of what I'd hoped to achieve.

The benefits of using a GPS device are many in my mind. I like to know how many miles are on my bikes for maintenance purposes. I also enjoy being able to see the distance covered (though I don't necessarily track every ride religiously) on a given bicycle or to see improvements in average speed. In addition, it's helpful to me to know feet climbed and other such information.

The problem with all of this information is that I can get too wrapped up in it and not just enjoy the ride. I accept that there are times when I simply want to push myself and other times when I just want to lollygag my way along a path, but the more I use a GPS, the fewer rides I take purely for enjoyment. In other words, finding the balance seems to have become quite a struggle.

Perhaps I am the only one who fights through this, but maybe someone has a suggestion as to how to find the balance once again? I find myself wanting to mentally return to my cruiser bicycle days and the enjoyment found when I had no idea how far I was going, nor how fast; but balancing that with the desire to improve myself, distances and climbing, I seem to be at odds with myself. While most people can probably easily find their way through this, I find that I tend to swing dramatically one way or the other instead of being able to enjoy both. If you've been able to strike a balance or have thoughts on how I might go about such a thing, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, I'm headed out on this windy day to get in a brief ride. Hopefully, I can stay upright long enough to make it at least a few miles.


  1. I don't use a tracking device for the same reasons you mention. I'm also at a stage in my life where I just don't care, ever, to increase distance or speed. Perhaps it would help to place the GPS on bikes you'd want to measure your progress and reserve a bike or two (because I know you have many) for digital free riding.

    1. :O) Ah, the many bikes. I've pared them down a bit this year, but somehow they never seem to get below a certain threshold.

  2. I see both sides of the argument. My solution is to have a computer on my road bike but not on any of my utility bikes (commuting, errands). This means the only time I am on a bike with a computer on it, I'm already in a "how far are we going today?" mindset. Having said that, I have not yet put a computer on my "new" roadbike which I obsess about speed while riding since I suspect it's the fastest thing I own, and I do not have any plans to.

    1. I agree. Making it only a part of the road bike seems logical... but there's still that part of me that simply wants to track the mileage on the other bikes just for purposes of maintenance needs. Maybe I just need to put it away so I don't see it on the other bikes? I'm not entirely sure how to resolve my mental hang ups. Maybe it's just that this has been a rough year (psychologically and physically) for all types of riding for me?

  3. I've had times where I felt that pressure re watching speed and distance. These days, if I start feeling that pressure, I put a piece of opaque tape over the parts of the computer display that worry me. Then I ride like I want to, and wait till I get home to record my ride.

    The other thing I do is give myself permission to be an ordinary rider. I've never been fast, but I've gotten even slower as I've gotten older. When I started back riding 3 years ago, before my first ride I sat down with myself and said "Girl, if you need to go slowly, it's ok. If you need to walk up a hill, you have permission to walk up the hill. The main thing you need to do is RIDE. And KEEP riding." (Sometimes it helps to actually say this stuff out loud. It's probably better to do this at home alone, or with the dogs. The dogs understand. :)

    Sure, I wish I were faster. OTOH, even if you average <10 mph (like I do) on most rides, you can still get a lot of miles in if you just keep going.

    Janice, 62 y.o., 3000+ miles so far this year.

    1. Janice, I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again, you are such a great person for me to hear from. Thanks for your very wise words (they will be taken to heart). I think sometimes it's difficult to allow ourselves permission to do what we need to do, and I hope that I will learn to be a bit more forgiving with myself as I continue down life's path.

  4. Congratulations on the new steed!! Can't wait to see pics and hear how you like it.

    1. Thanks! It's been an atrociously busy week, so I still haven't made it out on the new bike other than to test the set up, but I'm hoping soon. :O)


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