Monday, August 16, 2010

Don’t ride on the dead people… or, Why the cemetery is good place to practice tight turns on your bike

So, somehow, by the miraculous powers of the universe, James and I both had free time this afternoon and were both home at the same time as well!

Feeling a little daring and bold, I suggested that we go for a bike ride. He suggested the nearby bike path. The not so bold and daring part of me nodded vigorously at this suggestion. The only challenge would be to not hit the Mommas and their ginourmous strollers- way better than biking near cars. But the other part, the “it’s time to shake yourself out of your comfort zone with this whole biking thang” part, got hold of my voice and said, “Why don’t we ride on our street a bit”.

So we did. And it was pretty good. We ended up at the rather large cemetery at the end of our street and continued in, biking on the deserted yet wonderfully wide walkways. At one point, I tried to turn left in a tight turn and almost wiped out. I got really frustrated, and wanted very much to succumb to my first reaction when I get that frustrated which is to stomp away in a huff and feel sorry for myself.

But I didn’t.

Instead, with the help and patience of a certain future husband,I practiced tight turns over and over up and down the walkways for about half an hour. I learned that leaning away from the direction you are turning in helps considerably (yay physics!!), as does keeping a steady pace on the pedals (as opposed to cruising and then pumping really fast- so not helpful when turning. Yay momentum!!). Also, shockingly, thinking too hard about it limits your ability to feel what is happening. Once I got that, I was making sweet figure eights… though sometimes they ended up being figure nines… and figure zeroes...and few figure J's.

I’ve always been fascinated with cemeteries. Not in the ‘ I want to sleep in them at night and hang out with the spirits’ way. I love looking at the different names (By far, the best one I have seen is the surname McCool from the 1800’s) and headstone designs, and appreciate the importance of them for the living, while honouring the dead. Cemeteries are windows into the past, and markers of lives. But they are also peaceful, fairly open walking/biking areas. While we were there, we were quiet (with silent fist pumps every time I successfully made a turn), and were very careful to stay on the paths.

After a while, my wrists were pretty sore (still working on the correct posture/handlebar height so as to NOT be leaning heavily on the bars) and was admittedly a little dizzy from the multiple turns. So we headed home, and I have to say that I am looking forward to my next ride. I was acutely aware of the cars around me, and there was one moment where a shuttle bus made us both a little nervous, swinging about on the street like a drunk gorilla, but the awareness wasn't debilitating.

It's funny to me that I have known how to ride a bike for years now, but have only just now reached the point where I actually want to be a good/confident/not scared all the time cyclist. One pedal at a time... like most things in life:)


  1. Get gloves with pads in the palms...I used to bike all the time and my hands would always go numb. The gloves make a big difference. :-)

    - Diana

  2. Very true- I have a pair that I need to re-find, or un-lose:)

  3. Yay!
    I loved bikes when I was 7.
    Then I hated bikes most of my life for various reasons until I had a good reason to ride again at 25 when I moved here (a certain Little Sister who liked riding).
    Now I am so happy to have a bike and count the time I can ride as some of the best moments of my life.
    Drivers can be scary and rude sometimes, but that's just as true when I'm walking or driving. I hope we can ride together sometime!