“New” Cycling and How That Applies to Life…

I decided to post today’s pithy thoughts to my blog, since it’s been an age and then some since I’ve updated. It’s been nearly 30 years since I rode a bicycle that was not considered a “performance” bike, complete with clips (For those ‘old school’ among our audience, these are clips that the bottoms of my biking shoes snap into to secure my feet to the pedals. This is to enable you to not only push down on a stroke, but to also pull UP, thus increasing your drive on the bike.).

So…nearly 30 years since I’ve been on a bike that does not secure my feet to the pedals. For most of you, you are left wondering…well, what’s the big deal, Pol? I’ll tell you. There are actually two things:

  1. Nearly 30 years of cycling in a manner that enables action on the downstroke AND upstroke gives you a different style of pedaling.
  2. The last year since the back surgery, since waking up to have one foot/lower leg that has not regained sensation and/or 100% motor control, means that I have relied upon that toe clip to keep the “floppy leg” in position, and to have it still be a contributing member of the team.

Since I no longer have the time to do the kind of riding I used to on this bike:

My trusty Trek, with more than 3,000 miles on its frame.

Since my rides on this bike usually meant “get on, go fast, get off,” that precluded leisurely rides with my sweetie. Times, and demands, have changed. I no longer enter Century rides for charity (lack of time), and it’s lonely doing those “get on, go fast, get off” rides without my sweetie.

Thus we decided that it was time the nice road bike went on its way and in its place we welcome this new set of wheels:

New wheels.

It’s a sweet little bike, nice action, smooth Shimano gears. It’s a sort of baby mountain bike/road bike. Just what we want for leisurely weekend rides and/or camping trips with some light trail riding.

I took delivery of the new wheels yesterday. After a happy evening spent tinkering and adjusting, I took it for its first ride today. Things that I learned:

  1. The aforementioned floppy leg does not do so well just sitting upon pedals. I can push down, but there’s no pull up. When I pull up, lo and behold, the…wait for it…FOOT COMES OFF THE PEDAL! How very odd!
  2. When #1 happens, the result is that unless I take my eyes off of the road to lift and place my left foot into place (I can’t feel in that leg/foot, remember, so cannot do it by ‘feel’), said floppy foot/leg ends up kind of wonky on the pedal. The result? Floppy foot falls off said pedal, twists the attached ankle (which is okay, as I can’t feel when that happens, but I end up with no forward motion as I am not, in fact, actually propelling the bike anywhere!

The other, and far more prosaic, thing that I learned this afternoon is that I do not know how to NOT “get on, go fast, get off.” The idea of a “leisurely ride” seems to be a bit beyond my ken.

I got on, raced off, and then thought…um…now what? I raced over to my first destination (lunch), then raced over to Starbucks where I drank tea and graded papers. Then I hopped on again to run my errands. Halfway to my destination I realized that…I didn’t really have to go so fast. I could, in fact, go…slowly.

I could even take a moment and look around. Enjoy the lovely day. See who else was out and about.

What an odd thing to do; ride a bike, look around, and enjoy the scenery.

Huh.

Wonder if anyone else has discovered this?

I may have to try this again sometime.

In the meanwhile, I’ll sit here grading papers, watching football, mentally packing for my trip next week, with a little corner of my brain dedicated to working out plot points on the next book, and another to considering what it is I will make for dinner. After all, one can’t rush into this whole “leisurely” thing.

Tonight: Football and fiction, maybe some pizza


Learning to Be…in a Whole New Way.

Well, here’s a thing I realized late last night. I have lost the ability to just…be. To be still. To sit. To relax. To read for pleasure.

Yes, I do have a book due to my publisher on July 1 and really have no hope of making that deadline.  I am finding it difficult to sit and write. I am truthfully finding it difficult to just sit.

Yesterday, as I was preparing for my afternoon swim with my neighbor, I realized I had 15 minutes before we were to meet. I thought of at least a dozen things I could do in that time before realizing that I did not HAVE to fill that time with anything!

What a shock!

I have heard that post-doctoral folks tend toward depression following completion of their programs and I can see why. I’m not by any means depressed, but I am finding it hard to not work on something like crazy.

Take, for example, my newest endeavor: The Treehouse.

I have always wanted a treehouse and have always wanted a pop-up camper. Now I have both, combined in one. I bought, for a ridiculously low price, a 30+ year old Starcraft pop-up, complete with worn through canvas, rotted wood, and about 60 or so black widow spiders.

Not kidding about the spiders. Got the thing home, put it in the garage to work on it, and then bombed the crap out of the thing. Came out the next morning and the garage floor resembled Gettysburg, post battle.

Now that I have a Project (aka, the Treehouse), I’m going to town on the thing. Since the doctorate is done, I will be posting the progress on the Project. We are not replacing the canvas. Instead I am making something I saw once, fold-up/down solid walls (the top still pops up). Kind of like this one. The difference is that ours has slide-out beds that will also have rigid sides.

Pictures to follow in the next blog, this has gotten too long.

Tonight. Reading. For realsies. And relaxing.