Today I went for my first solo ride on my bike. Well, mostly solo. Leif rode with me till we got to the park, then he left for his own ride up a hill somewhere cuz that’s what he likes to do. Crazy. He rode with me to the park because I am not yet sure that I can get there on my own. It is a labyrinth of bike lanes that end suddenly, one way streets and cross walks that I don’t quite have the hang of yet. It looks so easy on the map but I think the map lies.
In the park I knew where I was going. I took the path we have been riding east out of town along the Arno River. It was a pleasant day. The sun had finally come out and it was suddenly warm. Once I got a little concerned about a Great Dane without a leash. He seemed to be looking at me like lunch. I was torn. Do I stop and so become less interesting to him, or do I speed up and hope he can’t catch me? Thankfully I didn’t have to do either. He lost interest in me when a butterfly flew by his nose. The sheep that seem to live here have figured out that there is no grass on the gravel and so it was easy to keep moving by them. It was a very pleasant ride out. I turned around when the path ended to head back into town.
What had been a pleasant roll through the countryside became just a little harder as I was now headed into the wind. Ok, I'm lying, it got hard. And of course, because I was alone I had no one to talk to. This left me plenty of time to start worrying about the what-ifs. I’m riding alone in a foreign country, you know. What if I get lost? What if I collapse from exhaustion or get hurt? What if the bike breaks down?
Naturally it didn’t take long before I started to hear all kinds of weird noises that I was certain were trouble.
ME: OH MY GOD, THE TIRES SOUND SO LOUD! I MUST HAVE A FLAT TIRE!!
The sensible me chimes in: No, it’s just that I’m not listening to someone talk. They always sound like this. (after stopping to check I continue on…no flat tire)
ME:WHAT’S THAT SOUND? IS IT THE BRAKES RUBBING ON THE RIM? ARE THEY STUCK? IS THE WHEEL OUT OF ROUND? I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIX THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COUNTRY!!!!
me: no, I am wearing a nylon raincoat and as my legs move the phone in the front pocket slides from side to side. See? Hold the coat still? Do you still hear it? I didn’t think so…
Once I made it to town I figure I was safe. I made my way through the middle of town. This is the part where there are cobblestones and people everywhere. There’s this one piece of road where I go the wrong way against one way traffic on a street wide enough for only one small car and one slim pedestrian.
ME: OH MY GOD! THE HANDLEBARS ARE LOOSE. I FELT IT MOVE, I SWEAR I DID!
Me: Don’t be silly, that’s impossible, they aren’t…wait, wait, WAIT! Why are my brake handles and shift levers hanging from the bottom of the bars? I can’t reach them that way! Hmmm, and the bars sort of sway left and right too. That can’t be good…(it’s pretty hard to ride on teeny tiny cobblestone streets with loose handlebars. Just take my word for it.)
Thank goodness this is the moment that Leif called to find out why I wasn’t home yet. He brought tools and we tightened everything up again. OK, this wasn’t my most shining moment, but I survived it. From now on I will think only positive thoughts during my rides.