Kris and I went for a 10 mile ride on our bikes today! I know this still isn’t a very long distance, but it is the furthest we’ve ever gone, so I felt accomplished!
A number of things on this ride made me feel accomplished, actually. First of all, this was one of my first times riding on major roads. To be fair, we did get off and walk on the sidewalk on a road that is basically a highway off ramp, and on the busiest road we rode on, there is a dedicated bike lane, but it was still a little scary! A second accomplishment was that I managed to use hand signals properly without falling over. Another was that we went up several hills (over 500 feet of climbing!), which I need to practice doing as there is a fairly steep hill on my planned commute in the fall. I have been nervous about that hill on my commute ever since buying the bike, but doing hills for the first time today showed me it would not be THAT bad (hopefully). Finally, at the end, neither of us felt like we were going to die. We would really like to be able to ride our city’s entire “greenbelt,” which is approximately 20 miles. If 10 miles didn’t wipe us out THAT badly, I’m sure that we can work our way up to that sooner or later.
There were a couple things that I still felt uncomfortable with, though. First, I am still incredibly uncoordinated, especially compared to Kris. For example, he has already become a pro at his toe clips. Because of my lack of coordination, I feel like I could benefit from having them (I have trouble keeping up with him on downhills because my feet fly off the pedals when I’m trying to pedal so that I can shift), but I also feel like I wouldn’t ever be able to get them on because of my lack of coordination. I seriously almost wrecked trying to itch my face today! Second, because I am not very confident about my abilities, I’m in a state of anxiety the entire time, things that would normally be minor annoyances become major stressors to me. For example, I don’t like to lead when we are riding, because I am bad at directions, so when Kris decided that I was going to lead and then that we were going to change up our route 3/4 of the way through (resulting in me having absolutely no idea how to get home from where we were), instead of explaining to him in a reasonable manner that this made me nervous and uncomfortable, I started yelling at him, accusing him of things like “never considering my feelings” and “forcing me to do things I hate” and swearing in front of small children. Sorry, hun, that might have been an overreaction My state of anxiety makes it hard for me to enjoy the scenery as well. We rode through Wildwood today (I have a post about how awesome this park is), and I was so nervous the whole time that I could barely enjoy the scenery, because first Kris got so far ahead of me that I lost him and then when I caught back up he made me lead. I did end up enjoying some scenery after that, but it really took me awhile to calm down.
After our ride, we went out for an awesome lunch (technically, they were serving brunch, but can you still call it brunch if you already ate breakfast and it is afternoon?) and then tried to go look at some cycling gear. Kris’s bike has a rear rack for panniers, but really nothing else on it. We decided we’d go out and look for some stuff as we didn’t even have a place to attach water bottles – I had to carry one in my backpack! This did not go well, however, though. We went to Dick’s because I assumed they would have a large selection of gear for cyclists just like they do for other sports. I felt like their selection was seriously lacking, though (except in helmets – they had aisles of them!). We almost bought Kris a pannier but decided we wanted to shop around more (they only had 2 options). I’m thinking about just ordering stuff off of Amazon, but I’m afraid I don’t know what I’m doing. Here are some options I’m considering, in order of priority:
- Bell. You must have one by law in Indiana, and Kris is terrible at yelling at peds anway. This one looks cheap and simple…or do I need one with all the bells and whistles 😉
- Lights (or another). I imagine we will both be riding at night but I have no idea what I’m doing. I saw advice to get ones with LEDs but I don’t know what the LED number means and I also saw advice to get one with at least 300 lumens but many of these don’t have info on that feature?
- Waterbottle cage. A simple one like this should be fine, yes? Oh, and Kris doesn’t have holes in his frame for one, so I’m guessing something like this would work?
- Panniers. Kris liked this one for his purposes at Dick’s. I’m thinking about mostly using my waterproof backpack since I’ll have to lug my laptop around, but I’m still thinking of getting a rack and panniers for non school supplies. I’m also having trouble finding a rear rack that would hold up to 50 lbs for my bike on Amazon and they didn’t have any at Dicks (no clue how much Kris’s holds, but I imagine it’s sturdy, Google tells me it is some sort of fancy vintage one). I know I saw some at the LBS at school, maybe I’ll check one here.
- Fenders. I feel like these ones would look “pretty” on both of our bikes. However, at Dicks, one thing they actually had a lot of was fenders, and they had some really rugged looking plastic ones with reflectors and crap. Would those be more functional?
Oh, and while I’m begging for help, what is this thing called? And by this thing, I mean the plastic part between my wheel and gears that the red arrow is pointing at. Mine is slightly broken and I don’t know what it is called to buy a new one.