The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, 1933
If you have been following me for any length of time, it should come as no shock to learn that I have “issues” when it comes to bikes. Some major mishaps in my younger years scared me more than was reasonable and I combined those experiences with a variety of other excuses to explain why I can’t ride. I’m too
fat big, I can’t see well enough, my balance stinks, etc., etc., etc.
When my friend loaned me her triathlon bike, I took it to the bike shop to be fitted and felt like an utter fraud. I had no business putting my fat ass on that lovely ride. So I didn’t. I tucked it away in my treadmill room and refused to look at it when I was using the ‘mill. I wouldn’t even make eye contact. Finally, in January, I had enough. I was going to ride that bike, come hell or high water.
I jokingly said that I was “sneaking up on it” but I knew I had to make my own peace with it before I could ever ride it. First I bought a trainer, set it up, and installed the bike on it.
Then I learned how to inflate the tires.
I took it for a test training ride and I still felt like I was completely out of my element. Next I bought a cadence sensor and installed that. Took it for another ride. Starting to feel better. Then I rode some more. After a 90 minute session, I decided that I needed to try it outside (duh, duh duuuh!)
I knew I needed some place that I could just focus on not falling down and not have to worry about cars or sudden hills or spectators so I took it to a nearby park and ride lot at 8:00 on Sunday morning – as close to deserted as anything in this area ever is. To say I was scared to death would be putting it mildly. I literally sat on the bike, hanging on to the side of my car, unable to go forward or even shift on the saddle. I thought, okay, there are two ways this can go. I can scramble off and run home with my tail between my legs, giving up on triathlons forever or I can ride the damn bike. Guess which one I chose.
Not only did I ride it, I rode it in the aero position! I did 5 miles around that parking lot. I practiced braking and cornering. Starting and stopping. There was even a nice hill from the lower lot for me to practice my shifting. I didn’t fall off. I didn’t hit any parked cars (almost hit a parked commuter van but pulled it out at the last minute!) I didn’t even hit the Metro bus that suddenly came barreling into the lot from a side road!
While I was riding, I was grinning like a maniac. I felt light and free! I couldn’t believe that I had allowed my own fear to hold me back for so long! I knew about halfway through the ride that I needed to buy that bike and make her officially mine. She was named Ruby before, a very nice, sweet name. But to me, she is Kali – goddess of time, change and destruction. Fitting as she his helping me destroy some more of my long held, and unfounded, fears.
Kali’s most common four armed iconographic image shows each hand carrying variously a sword, a trishul (trident), a severed head and a bowl or skull-cup (kapala) catching the blood of the severed head.
Two of these hands (usually the left) are holding a sword and a severed head. The Sword signifies Divine Knowledge and the Human Head signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order to attain Moksha. The other two hands (usually the right) are in the abhaya (fearlessness) and varada (blessing) mudras, which means her initiated devotees (or anyone worshipping her with a true heart) will be saved as she will guide them here and in the hereafter.
Kali and I are going to do great things together! I can’t wait until the next cold snap passes and we can go longer and start working on speed and distance! I also need to practice the clipless pedals. I decided that using flat pedals would be enough of a challenge for me on the first ride but I know I need to start working on those skills so the habits are ingrained early.
Onward and upward!