She laughs and encourages me to walk my bike up, be happy, enjoy the day.
That seems like sensible advice. And I have to say, walking feels much more natural after such a hearty meal. As I push Janet doggedly uphill, I rather wish we’d taken a little time to do this before starting up at full speed. Eventually, I get back on the bike, and soldier forward.
Did I say forward? I mean upwards.
Because after this, the rest of the ride on 9W is – as I suspected - a succession of ascents.
A couple of times L stops to wait for me (embarrassing but kind), and we take off together for awhile, until she once again fades into the distance.
Lately, I’ve been immersing myself in biking literature (yes, there is such a thing), and am on my 2nd book about cycling across the country. It’s something I fantasize about doing in the next two years. But as I struggle up one hill after another on Route 9 I think, Who am I kidding? I can’t even make it back from Nyack to Manhattan. How would I ever make it across the country? I hear there are hills…
I’m about half-way through, grinding up yet another incline on my own, when I spot L waiting for me on a park bench – we’re both ready for a rest.
As L and I compare notes on our return, I get a familiar sinking feeling. Because I’m realizing that on sustained rides like this, I need all the help I can get; and Janet simply doesn’t have the chops, on the uphills - or the downhills. A huge improvement over Lucille who was built for folding and convenience. Pretty and with great brakes. But what good are brakes without the get up and go?
Nothing like a bike ride to bring things into sharp focus. Because I can see it clearly now: I made a mistake with Janet. Ouch.
My first reaction is to shift the blame. How could they sell me a bike like this in the first place when I told them what I needed? But then I have to be fair. I wasn’t ready to commit to the carbon fiber bike – or the carbon fiber budget. And one of the things I really like about my local bike store, Zen Bikes, is that they don’t try to sell you on something expensive just to make a sale.
Pedaling Route 9 helps me process all of this (and alleviate the shame of my prior decision). Fortunately we are past the worst inclines and can pedal at a more leisurely pace, allowing for thought that goes beyond just making it up the next hill.
L and I and hit the GWB with daylight to spare.
We part at 23rd Street, L to head for home back over the Williamsburg Bridge (god love her); me to Zen Bikes.
And while I’m at Zen, I may as well look around. A girl can always look…