Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fun, Not Fear

I spent last weekend in North Carolina with my two sisters, one brother-in-law, one niece, and two big dogs. Aside from dealing with a leaky water heater, we had a wonderful time. I successfully defended my title as “Sister Scrabble Champion,” despite a strong challenge from my baby sister. I even did some “training” – if you count walking the dogs on the beach and riding a one-speed, coaster-brake bike around town.

I did do one amazing thing, however. I went parasailing with my niece. Harnessed to a parachute that was pulled by a motorboat, we drifted 800 feet (we were told that’s equivalent to a 30-story building) above the coastline for 10-12 minutes. The feeling of floating in the sky was fantastic. Of course, there was a moment of near panic as we ascended, when I realized the boat was a long, long way down and I hadn’t asked what to do in case of emergency if we needed to come down immediately. But since there was nothing to do but hang on to the harness strap, I decided I might as well enjoy the ride. As we descended, we dropped into a sea of swirling jellyfish (the captain said they weren’t the stinging kind). Then we were pulled onto the boat and returned to shore via a banana boat. What an adventure!

So, if I can parasail without trepidation, why can’t I ride my bike with both feet clipped into the pedals? For that matter, why does starting off with only one foot clipped in make me feel like I’m taking my first unsteady ride without training wheels? Climbing onto my bike has become a test of fortitude. I’m okay while I’m riding, but I’m terrified to stop because I fear falling off and seriously hurting myself. The three hairy cats that share my house would not make particularly handy nursemaids.

This morning’s ride at WC started fine. After two loops, I stopped at the parking lot for water. Hurray, no problem! I decided to practice some “stops.” One “almost fall” later, the chain on my bike got twisted. As I stopped, with my left foot not clipped in and on the ground, I toppled over on my right side with that foot still clipped in.

The only outward damage was a skinned knee. I got back on the bike, but my confidence was gone. Fear is a powerful glue. I simply could not lift both feet off the ground onto the pedals at the same time. I wanted to put the bike in the car and not get on it again until indoor cycling begins. But I’m supposed to do the Yorktown Sprint next Sunday, so I knew I had to deal then and there with my fear.

I changed into regular street shoes. Riding with the heels jammed against the pedals, I managed two short loops (between the parking lot and the FB entrance) and stopped without incident.

I couldn’t tell any difference in effort or speed riding clips v. no clips. Now I’m wondering if I should put regular pedals back on my bike as long as I’m riding it on the road. I want to feel as comfortable riding this bike as I did riding last week’s beach cruiser. Surely a more relaxed attitude will compensate for any perceived lack of efficiency. My new mantra – fun, not fear.


Kate said...

Sounds like a great week off. I loved para sailing the one time I tried it.

Re' the bike clips. I have had pedals that were easy to clip in and out of and some that weren't. Maybe try different pedal system????

tri-ing races not cases said...

Stick with the clip ins! You'll get the hang of it. I promise. And then you can start with the flying dismount :) I echo Kate's sentiments too. I like my Keos. They are easy to get out of.

Triathlonmom said...

Ya know, everyone will give their opinion and you have to do what is best for you. Personally, I'm now adjusted to the clipless pedals, but they don't do much for me in terms of speed and I'd be just as happy in my cages.
If it will help you have more fun (and less stress) I say go for it.