Never have I understood that sentiment more than I do right now.
I'm scheduled for a "bike fitting" at Zen - something I'm told will improve my rides with Lola. There's nothing wrong with Lola - I love everything about her. But I've been told that a bike fitting will enhance my rides; make them more efficient, more comfortable. I've really been looking forward to this.
But I'm in for a few surprises.
My expectation is that Lola will be tweaked to fit me even better. What I'm learning is that for greater comfort and efficiency, I'm the one who's going to have to change. Wait a minute - what? Like the partner in a couple who pushed for couples therapy, only to find they are the problem, I'm completely unprepared for this.
I haven't even gotten on the bike, when I'm advised to graduate to a true biking shoe. It seems I'm losing as much as 20% of the power I put out, in the cushy sole of my New Balance shoes. Hmmmm. OK. I spring for the simplest Specialized shoe, and it's actually pretty comfortable.
But now Lola isn't. My saddle hurts, I'm canted into the handle bars, my iffy shoulder is bothering me (these adjustments are all fixed). But the shoes slip all over the pedals. I'm not pressured to clip in but…
Then, I'm encouraged to ride to "cadence." Most cyclists I know (including L) do this, so I already know about it. The ideal cadence is 80 rpm. I spring for the wireless cadence indicator hoping this will benefit my ride - though I’m the one who’ll have to keep it up.
I don’t want to give the impression that Zen is out to make a buck here. I’m the one who requested the fitting. And everything being suggested by them, has been suggested to me by many others before now. I just didn’t want to hear it.
Fundamentally, it’s about commitment and how far I want to take it.
It is with this unsettled mind that I begin the 5BBC "Tri-Boro (Not The Bridge)" ride, which meets at City Hall.
I am the first to arrive, (slipping all over the pedals), happy to see the familiar figure of the Sweep.
A total of 30 of us (including two recumbents) head over the Brooklyn Bridge. The crowd is friendly, the ride is great.
We pass through Bushwick.
We make a quick stop at the Grimaldi Bakery.
But the height of the journey is a trip to the Queens Velodrome. I'd seen this in the trip description, but couldn't really believe it. A velodrome? Why have I never heard of this? (Don't tell me it's because I live under a rock. I already know this). But there it is. Today, we have it all to ourselves..
How to describe it?
It's like being in a fun house, where the floors and walls are all off kilter. Gravity is just not where you expect it. The angle doesn’t look bad from afar, but when you’re on it, it feels as if you're going to fall over. As if your tires won't grip. But it's counter intuitive. If you go fast, gravity works with you. If you go slow - well, you very well could fall over.*
We all survive:
We make our way to the Empanada Cafe.
At home, I text L. I am of such mixed minds. I don’t want to professionalize something as joyous as the bicycle and no longer enjoy it. Yet almost everyone I know has taken the steps that I’m being advised to take, and they seem pretty happy.
L is patient as always. “You inch closer and closer as you see the light,” she texts.
I hope that happens soon.