Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pedaling forward for 22 miles

My daughters and I changed gears for a 30 hour girl's getaway this past weekend.
I was able to embrace things I love:
uninterrupted conversation and laughter with my daughters,
persnickety food choices (healthy, slow, organic)
live music,
down-to-earth people and lifestyles,
a bike ride.

I hadn't been on a bike for maybe 30 years until earlier this year when I was in Branson, Missouri, 
celebrating my sister's 60th birthday.  We spent a day at the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park,
where we had access to rental bikes and a beautiful Ozarks bike trail.

It was so much fun to be on a bike again.
I've wanted to recreate that riding experience since being back at home.

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.
John F. Kennedy

When planning this mother-daughter trip, the #1 activity I was drawn to was to rent bicycles, 
and ride from Ojai to the beach.  The Ojai Valley Trail, a converted rail line where trains once 
hauled oranges, links Ojai to Ventura.  It sounded ideal.

My biking venture started before we even got to the trail, however.
We rented bikes (The Mob Shop) and were "test" riding them in the parking lot of the bike shop.
And although the old saying, "Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget." is probably
true, it should have an asterisk* adding something about the braking system.

I started off test driving "my" bike, but soon found myself heading down a drive way, heading 
toward the busy highway--Ojai Ave.  My feet applied the brakes.  There was no resistance.  I tried again,
and still gliding forward, I tried a third time.  (About this time I must have grazed a tree branch, as my older daughter told my younger daughter, "Mom, just ran into a tree."  I don't remember a tree encounter. I just heard about it.)
My mind finally put this all together and screamed, "This bike doesn't have any brakes...jump off!"
Which is what I did....jumped off the bike seat and got my feet onto the ground.
A bit shaken, I walked the bike back to the entrance of the store.
During this short 20 foot walk, the whole matter popped into focus....
this bike had hand brakes!
(I know. I should have noticed the levers and cables, but if I did, it just didn't sink in.)

Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.
Mark Twain

I had never, ever, in my 66 years, ridden a bicycle with hand brakes.  (The Branson bikes had coaster brakes.)
Could this old dog learn this new trick and learn it fast?
Having broken my wrist years ago, I am cautious when it comes to any activity that might result in my
bones being pitched into the ground.
it was very important to me to go bike riding and so I rode around the parking lot, gently squeezing those hand brakes.  I was definitely out of my comfort zone.  I was uncomfortable both confidence-wise and physically. (My small hands just barely reached the spread between the handle bar and the brake lever.)
After 10 minutes practice, we were off, heading down city streets to reach the trail.  I kept reminding myself,
"hands to stop, hands to stop".

It is downhill from Ojai with a steady climb return trip.
Downhill the wind whipped my hair and invigorated my spirit.
Uphill my legs muscles turned to jelly.
My heart pounded at each steep rise.
Push, push, push those pedals.  Just breathe, I reminded myself.

We had the aspiration to ride to the ocean, but we wisely turned around 11 miles down the trail at Foster Park.  The trail was good and I managed the brakes without incident--well, maybe just one tiny bump that resulted in a splinter in my hand.  We rode for 3 1/2 hours.  My legs were aching, but I didn't care.
I had gone on a fun ride.

Life is like a bicycle.
In order to keep your balance,
you must keep moving.
 Albert Einstein

1 comment:

  1. Aunt Carol, when I was 5, I was riding my bike down a big hill that leveled out at our house. As I began going faster & faster down the hill, all I could picture in my mind was the movie "The Goonies" where Brandt is riding the bike that Troy tows with the car and sparks go flying because the bike is going too fast. Beginning to panic that would happen to me, right as the street leveled out, I was flying and afraid I couldn't stop, I bailed. Totally dove off the left of my bike onto the grass, and the bike went flailing and crashed. It's pretty funny now to look back on, but man, I was sure my bike was going to catch on fire. HA!!