Saturday, October 13, 2012

Revolution of a cyclist: The first real ride

Have I mentioned that my husband is super-excited that I show any interest at all in riding a bike and is practically over the moon that I am willing to try a road bike?
He came to the breakfast table dressed to ride. I was still trying to decide what to wear.

I finally came out of the bedroom ready to go and we hit the road. I'm absolutely certain every biker out there today was totally impressed with my half (real cycling) spandex and half clearance rack at Target outfit. I was stylin'.

Leif took pictures of everything. Me on the stairs inside our building preparing to go out and actually ride. Me standing next to my bike. Me sitting on my bike. Riding my bike. Stopping for coffee. Stopping to rest. Returning home. He took so many pictures I felt like I was training for the Olympics, or possibly creating world peace.

I didn't feel like I would be very photogenic on this ride. Honestly I was kind of dreading it because I've ridden far too many hills with my mountain bike and quite frankly it's exhausting dragging that bike up the hill. I don't glisten becomingly....I glow fire engine red and sweat enough to put fires out. I was hoping this bike would be easier to ride. I also resemble the Michelin Man in my spandex. None of these things make for a photo album that you show to friends and family, much less put out here on the internets for everyone to see and comment on.

Typically on my mountain bike I stick with just a few gears except when climbing the big hills. It's my comfort zone. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to figure out the gears because they're quite different. Only two on the front and I don't know how many on the back. Leif told me that the mechanic said that I was one gear short because my chain is new but the gears are old. No problem since it was one I had no intention of actually using every gear on the bike.

However, once we were making the long slow climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo I  found that the chain was slipping a lot and we decided that I really only had about 4 gears on the big front one (don't you just love my technical language here?) which totally fits into my comfort zone of using only one or two gears. Thank goodness that was one of the most severe climbs we had on this trip.

See how thoughtful he is? He could have taken me somewhere with some pretty tough climbs but instead he took me to Greve in Chianti which has hills but none of them killer. In fact it was very fun to climb a hill without thinking "He's trying to kill me," and without becoming completely drained by the time I reached the top. I'm sure there will be plenty of hills that will try to kill me later, but for today this was perfect.

He was also pretty confident in me to take me that far from home (~40 miles round trip) on my first trip out.

We saw five women this morning which Leif says is a pretty big number. Usually he sees one, maybe two women out riding on any given Saturday. Compare that to the fifty to sixty men we saw and you get a good picture of what it's like to be a woman cyclist here in Italy. You're a curiosity. Sure, they'll flirt with you madly (even when heading the opposite direction at top speed) but they probably don't' take you seriously.

Which is fine with me. I'm looking forward to the first time I pass a guy and when he tries to save face by catching up and finds that he can't. Plus, the small number of women who ride here means I'm part of a pretty exclusive club. That's right. I'm special.

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