Today I took a newbie on a ride. He is…how shall I put it…athletically inclined. (I, on the other hand, am not. I am, in fact, a card carrying geek who lived as a couch potato (well, computer desk potato) until the bright idea of buying a bicycle occurred to me and I found an athletic practice that didin’t require depth perception, coordination or grace.) Because he is athletically inclined, he wants to be good on the bike. Because he is a teenager, he doesn’t want to be shown up by someone who his nearly thirty years older than he is. Both of these things are perfectly understandable.
He’s ridden a few times – one or two miles around the neighborhood and then a reported twenty miles out by himself one day. We headed out bright and early while it was still cool and there wasn’t much traffic.
I did all the things that one does with a new rider – I sprayed instructions and advice like a fount of wisdom, which is probably just as annoying as it sounds, though he, in fact, followed most of the advice. (The one piece he ignored was to shift up and trying spinning at something less than 125. Apparently he likes to keep his legs moving.)
I also chose a flat route, kept the pace low, reminded him to drink, let his draft off of me nearly all of the time, that sort of thing. When we arrived at the volunteer fire station which is five miles from the house (comfortingly close, don’t you think?) I told him we had gone five miles. His quads were hurting him, so we pulled over and let him stretch, checked his saddle height, talked about riding posture and then turned around to ride the five miles back to our starting point.
He still had some fire at the end of the ride, because he pushed himself to go hard up one last hill. Nicely done. I dropped him off and then headed out to get some more miles on my own – hard ones with hills because I’m a glutton for punishment. (Actually, it’s because I know I need to ride stronger than I do, so I might as well push myself.)
That ride was hard but good until the two dogs came out after me, one of them baying like the hound of the Baskervilles and apparently out for blood. I was heading up a (fortunately for me!) not very steep hill and I had to hit thirty mph before I dropped them. (Only one of them came out into the street after me and ran at my heels, but one was enough.) The really bad thing was that I had to go back that way to get home again, and there was quite a steep hill not far past their house in that direction.
Going back that way meant risking life, limb and skin, but I had no choice.
I pulled over and picked up some rocks to put in my pocket.
On the way back I had some rocks ready to hand and then here they came, both of them running out into the street this time. I tossed a rock at the first one, and I missed, but apparently it was enough to make him remember an appointment that he had somewhere else, so he left.
The vicious one – the one that made me think he wanted to see the color of my insides – came hard after me. I threw a rock at him. Missed again. It apparently scared him, though, because he moved over to the other side of my bike. I threw another rock. Missed again. (I did mention that sports are not my strong suit, didn’t I?) but apparently the fact that rocks could come at him no matter which side of my bike he was one was enough to make him change his mind about the chase and go find something else to do, and they left me in peace rather than in pieces.
The rest of the ride was uneventful but fun, and I am definitely ready for me.
See you on the road.