I wasn’t anticipating continuing this blog, seeing as I started it only for the 30DOB, but I find myself still wanting to record my biking adventures – or, well, at least my astonishment that I am still having adventure without even meaning to :D. I also like the idea of having a record of my “learning to bike” experience. Making it a public format still feels a little awkward or silly to me, but online I can also post photos, something I can’t do in my paper journal.  So…blogging it is.

I never officially wrapped up the 30DOB, so I’ll do that here. The reason I didn’t blog is that nothing particularly exciting happened those last few days. I rode to campus, I rode to the grocery store, I rode to my friend’s house,  etc. Now that it’s been a while though I wonder if I didn’t actually see some cool stuff but have since forgotten it. I guess that’s another reason why I’d like to continue blogging about my bike, so that I can remember.

Anyways, BIKING ADVENTURE. I believe it two Thursdays ago, on 5/3. I was looking for things to do other than studying for my last final and decided to go on a bike ride. The Minx and I headed out towards Troy, enjoying a nice tailwind as we went. It was sunny but not too hot that afternoon. Until I warmed up, just moving through the air so fast on my bike almost pushed the temperature into the chilly zone. Once I got onto the Latah trail I put my earbuds in and blasted some Bibio (I know, him again. I tend to listen to a handful of artists almost exclusively for a few months, then move on to a new batch. I usually change them to fit the seasons). I got about halfway to Troy and decided I was feeling a little tired so I turned around and headed back to Moscow (or maybe I was feeling just a little lazy rather than tired, considering what happened next).

As previous walking buddies can attest to, I can take a ten-minute walk and at the very least triple the amount of time because I will stop and examine every interesting bug, twig, and fungus that I see.  My go-to Moscow date described me as “easily distractible”. Biking really doesn’t change it for me; sometimes I will let things pass because by the time it registers I’ve seen them I’ve already passed them and I don’t want to turn around, or (in the case of wildlife) blazing past them on my bike scared them away anyways. On this last bike ride I nearly ran over a garter snake, and MAN it was a huge one – it nearly stretched all the way across the trail! – so I immediately stopped to examine it.

The guy drafting me didn’t stop, though. There were a few terrifying seconds where my brain was screaming “WTF JUST HAPPENED WHY ARE THERE TWO BIKES”, but luckily neither of us crashed, and we managed to come to a stop a regrettable distance away from the garter snake (the little guy didn’t budge an inch though. That’s one pretty chill snake. Probably literally chill too, we were on a shady portion of the trail). 

I’m sure the collision was my fault. I forgot to ask him but in the next couple hours the guy proved to be an extremely courteous cyclist, so I’m sure when he started drafting me he must have called out and warned me (I mean, I assume that’s bicycle etiquette when you’re drafting someone, so a situation like me suddenly braking doesn’t occur… ), but  I was playing my music so loud I didn’t hear him. I don’t listen to music when I’m biking in town for this reason, because I want to be able to hear where the cars are, but I always figured the trails were deserted enough where I didn’t need to be careful about that. I’ll probably play my music a bit more quietly in the future.

 

Matthew turned out to be a pretty cool guy; he was really apologetic for running into me and I was equally apologetic for not being attentive to my surroundings, and we started talking as we took the opportunity for a water break. When we both started riding again we continued our conversation and we ended up riding all the way to Pullman together.

I’ve never ridden a bike with anyone before, and I really enjoyed the experience. (Well, of course I’ve ridden with other people when I was a kid, but not in the last year when I’ve really started cycling.) He was a “serious” spandexed cyclist and kept saying how he hadn’t been on a bike in a few months due to travelling, but he was still going at a faster pace than I ever had. I had forgotten my bike computer at home and I wish I hadn’t so I could know exactly how fast we were going, but we were definitely going somewhere over 18 mph, and judging by his comments either at or a little over 20. Even if he was allegedly out of shape he was still in much better shape than I am, but while I had to push myself sometimes to keep up with him it wasn’t an uncomfortable ride at all. At some points I even had to slow down a little for him; granted, he was pretty worn out because he was on his way back from Troy already, but it was still a bit of an ego boost.

He gave me a lot of good information on bicycles. At first he called my bike a “crap bike” which made me bristle (dontchu insult mah Minx mister), but he amended that to explain that if I wanted to do the kind of cycling I’d like to – touring, some racing maybe – my little Minx would definitely “beat me up”, and I’d need to get a bike meant for that kind of thing. The Minx would be good for figuring out my preferences, basically, which is what I intended it for anyways. Matthew said a titanium bike was the way to go (he was riding an older Eddy Merckx). He also said that his rule of thumb when purchasing bikes for his kids was that he’d spend about the same amount of money as they biked in a year. For example, he said, if he biked 6,700 miles a year, that would justify a nice bike in the thousands of dollars range. But if, say, junior was only going to bike 50 miles a year, he’d be getting an old mountain bike from Goodwill :D. It sounds like good advice, but I was mostly floored by the numbers…6,700??  I had been proud for going around 200 on the Minx already, but 6,700 seems like  A LOT. In a good way, though.

He gave me lots more information about the kinds of foods to bring on long rides, stretching, training, hills, etiquette, helmets, diet, Spokane trails (he was originally from Spokane), tires, technique, equipment…basically the entire ride was an information dump. All with the beautiful Palouse in the background, and going at a comfortably challenging pace (but one we could still converse at).

I thought I would be really sore the next day, but surprisingly I wasn’t – at first I was disappointed because I thought it meant I hadn’t pushed myself, but then I realized that that’s a good  thing. I sustained a faster pace than I ever had (no coasting for three miles! Whoo!), and kept up with a “serious” cyclist. Admittedly, a self-proclaimed out-of-shape serious cyclist but still, it was a good experience. If I wasn’t really sore or anything that means that I can go even faster, or even longer, or both. I look forward to trying.

This experience also confirmed the best things happen to me by accident. I had a serious cyclist friend in Moscow I’d been trying to go on a ride with, but never ended up having the time or matching schedules for. But that day an impulse ride when I should have been studying and a garter snake combined for me to go on my first ride with someone, and it ended up being an extremely fun and educational experience.  

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