Newbie on the Trail

bicylistA few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my failed attempts at bicycling. Having not ridden one in over 25 years, a few years ago I decided to test out the saying “It’s like riding a bike. You never forget.” Soon I discovered that saying was a lie. The bike was sold and I moved on to other more doable hobbies.

But, I don’t like to be a quitter. So I decided to get another bicycle and try it again. The first day was interesting. Turning corners was easier than it had been last time I tried, but riding in a straight line was nearly impossible. We decided to stay on the sidewalk, so I wouldn’t fall in front of a car. Sidewalks are very small when you don’t know how to ride.

Another 5 feet of room would have been very helpful, especially when pedestrians were present. To pass them required three things: riding in a straight line, actually getting around them and staying on the sidewalk. Like walking and chewing gum, that was not going to happen. The times when I didn’t (couldn’t) stop to let them pass me, I would fall over and catch myself with my foot.

Lots of people that day heard me as I pleaded for forgiveness… “I’m still learning!” “Sorry.” “I don’t know how to ride a bike!” If I was 8 that may be understandable, but I’m 34.

I’m happy to say though, that it’s getting much easier! As often as possible, I hit the trails. Each day I’m learning to go faster, round corners easier and even pass pedestrians, dog walkers and motorized wheelchairs.

However, I have learned that bicycling has rules; ones that I forgot about. Rules such as using hand gestures to communicate to other cyclists and vehicles. Turning and stopping both have hand gestures, and if they’re not used then accidents can happen.

For example, don’t come to an abrupt stop when people are behind you, probably never, but especially without using a stopping gesture. I nearly caused a three bike pile-up the other day. Also, don’t take your break at the corner of a trail interchange. Someone loudly stated an expletive in my direction today for doing that. Oops, sorry guy.

Stay in your lane! When rounding a corner, if you can’t round it tightly, then slow down. Or else, you may drift into the other lane and cause a head on collision. That hasn’t happened yet, but it sure could have.

Even with all the close-calls, it’s been a blast! Just like with any other workout I get hooked on, I’m competing with myself. Each day, I must go further and faster. There are no exceptions. So far, the longest ride was right at 17 miles, with the best time being 10.5 miles in 55 minutes. That may not be great, but for being a beginner, I’m satisfied with it. Now all I have to do is beat it.

In the meantime, I have a question for the cyclists out there. What does the gesture mean when a passing cyclist knocks on their chest with their fist? I’m almost positive he wasn’t having a heart attack, so is that “hello” in cycle speak?

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16 Responses to Newbie on the Trail

  1. Good for you. I started riding again a few years ago because there were so many trails in Indiana. Not having much luck with that here in Oklahoma but there is a lake we ride around a few times a year. Kudos to you for not giving up! Enjoy and be careful πŸ˜‰

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  2. suzjones says:

    Good for you. That’s 10.5 miles further than I got. lol

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  3. DailyMusings says:

    This is so exciting!! I could feel your exuberance coming through the post. As a walker who often has to share the trails in the park, I find it helpful if the rider coming up behind me either calls out “on your left/or right” or has a bell that he rings giving me enough warning time to move over. I have almost been side swiped many times because rider come whizzing past without any warning. 17 miles is amazing! You go girl!! πŸ˜€

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    • mewhoami says:

      I am excited about it. It’s been really fun and a decent workout too. You’re right about the importance of calling on “on your left.” That’s helpful for pedestrians and other cyclists. It’s a startling thing to have a bike zoom past you with no warning. 17 miles is definitely my record, but I do plan to beat it very soon.

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  4. I’ve been riding for years and have never seen that thumping on the chest…. though I’ve done it myself when listening to music and am singing a powerful part. πŸ˜‰ Congratulations! The joy of bike riding can take you far, literally and emotionally and mentally. Keep pedaling! πŸ™‚

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    • mewhoami says:

      A pro rider I know said the same thing – no answer for the chest thump gesture. Maybe he was listening to music, or maybe he had an air bubble. πŸ™‚ Riding will take you far. That’s one thing that I’ve been amazed at; is far you can get in such a short amount of time.

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  5. I’m glad that you’ve picked it back up and it’s working out for you! I love riding a bike… well, I used to love it – I’m like you, haven’t done it in ages!

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  6. Gallivanta says:

    Wonderful that you have taken on this challenge. I have thought about riding again but that’s as far as I’ve got.

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  7. Not sure about what the chest gesture stands for in the cycling world! You have inspired me to get back onto my bike today. I usually swim laps in the summer, but there’s nothing like the freedom of riding a bike.

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