Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

July 20, 2008

It Ain't Pretty But It Feels Good....

As much as I hate to admit it, I have become one of them. One of those girls who dives in to her boyfriend's hobby headfirst. So now instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings and debating where to get breakfast, Wine Guy and I are decked out in spandex padded shorts, bright jerseys and dorky helmets, ready to cycle til we drop.

I will say that I went in to this willingly, even though I spent much of the last 10 years making fun of the annoying "pack" road bikers who take up way too much of the road along Pacific Coast Highway, nearly blinding me with their neon, fake-sponsored jerseys.

Why the change of heart? Absolute necessity.

If you recall, I had pretty major orthopedic surgery last January and, believe it or not, am only really able to start exercising now. I used to be a pretty athletic person and played several vigorous tennis matches a week. This helped me to fight off the mid-30s weight gain, something I am more than entitled too based upon my terrible eating habits. But take out that exercise and add on even more eating due to boredom and you have, well, a bit of a weight issue.

Since I'm still not fully recovered, high-impact sports aren't really an option just yet. I started swimming laps, but I find that to be quite possibly the most boring activity on the planet. If I can't have a game I'm trying to win, at least give me something interesting to look at to keep my mind busy. Which leads me to why I hate the gym. Closed-captioned CNN (or God forbid Fox News) is not my idea of something interesting to look at, and with the beautiful weather here in San Diego, it seems ludicrous to be cooped up in a gym pedalling away on a fake bike.

Last year Wine Guy suggested that we ride bikes together. He was already pretty into it and had all the gear for himself, but he found it hard to get motivated to go for rides on his own. But I was not prepared to fork out $1000+ for all the equipment the sport requires. And besides, I was fully in love with tennis.

But six months of ass-spreading changed all that. All of a sudden, a ride on a bike sounded like the best thing in the world.

So we hit the bike shop and the next thing I knew Wine Guy and the hot Swedish salesman Jonas picked out everything I needed, speaking a language I barely understood. At some point I had to ask, "Is someone going to show me how to use the gears at least?" I was in over my head. But I walked out of there with a perfect bike, plus all the paraphernalia that makes biking such an appealing sport to men (who love anything that requires a lot of accessories and fine-tuning).

We went for our first ride together that same afternoon and within an hour we had explored an area neither of us had been before and managed to thoroughly exhaust our muscles in a way that felt terrific. I met up with some friends later that night and, even though I had showered and changed, one of them said that I looked terrific, almost glowing. He could tell that something was different with me. Amazingly, that difference was vigorous exercise.

said ,"Look at me, I must be good because my clothes are authentic." I settled on a two-tone green jersey from The following week, Wine Guy came with me back to the bike shop to get my custom fitting (which makes all the difference in how the bike feels, I highly recommend it). We knew we were going for a ride the next morning and, since my ass was still sore from our first ride earlier in the week, we decided to stop at REI and get some padded bike shorts. Have you ever tried those on before? Oh my God. I felt like I was wearing a badly shaped diaper. A very strange sensation. But not as strange as the biking jersey Wine Guy forced me to try on.

I was purely opposed to any jersey that screamed, "poser biker girl" - so any phony "sponsor" logos or fluorescent colors were out of the question. But I managed to find a two-tone green one that wasn't terribly ugly but was bright enough to hopefully keep San Diego's terrible drivers from knocking me off the road.

So there we were yesterday morning, decked out in spandex -not matching in pattern or color but certainly in spirit - lugging our bikes down the front steps. Of course our new neighbor picks that moment to come home, smiling politely as he squeezes past us. I couldn't help but comment to WG as he passed, "Oh, I feel a kind of silly in these clothes." It couldn't have been more obvious that the comment was really directed at the neighbor.

But the ride was amazing and, again, it felt wonderful to move my body and build up my strength. Plus, I don't often drop $1000+ and I am determined to love this sport... even if I hate it.

So if you happen to pass that semi-matching bike riding couple on the side of the road, try to resist the urge to mock them. I'd really appreciate it.



Forever In School said...

My husband and I started riding our new bikes about a month ago, too. It really feels good. The breeze on our faces, seeing places that we don't usually see, and feeling our muscles ache.
Enjoy your new hobby!

Anonymous said...

Biking is so much fun--even better with someone you love! Be glad he had a healthy hobby for you to pick up! But be careful out there!

Melissa said...

Despite the awkward sensation, did the padded shorts help?

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Hell yeah they helped! I highly recommend them to anyone who gets their butt on a bike- whether it's a Huffy or a high-tech piece of cycle machinery.

Mendoza Line said...

Hey, I grew up around RAGBRAI, I can mock all I want!

And with good reason...

Sonny Amou said...

Please, please, please let the outfit be hot pink with banana yellow racing stripes. And don't forget the Fanny Pack!

Heh. Seriously, have fun on the ride. It's a zen thing, via the rhythm, cadence, scenery, plus it's remarkably an activity where you can talk and ride at the same time. You'll enjoy it.


Loverville said...

I'm so psyched that you're enjoying it so much! It's one of my favorite ways to work out as well as discover new parts of NYC.

Custom fitting, never had that before! Will have to try that.

Just wondering, do you use water bottles or a Camelbak? Been searching for a Camelbak I actually like... no luck yet.