Smells Like Teen Spirit

(alternatively titled) “Rock and roll in spin class is highly underrated.” And so started Monday night spin, Nirvana blaring, lightsdimmed, 45 minutes of RPM based hill climbing.Fast forward: Saturday. We headed off to Victoria Park first thing in the morning (before the “civilians”arrived in droves) to get in some real world cycling, going round and round thepark, watching the time and checking our pace. Saturday was a big day for me.  Idecided to give my cycle cleats their first public outing.Reverse.  Wind theclock back.  When I was in high schoolthere was a guy called Fritz.  He wasreally into cycling and arrived each day decked out in Lycra (before it wasfashionable) and wearing cycle shoes with his aquamarine coloured Bianchi bike.  I think Fritz may not have realised it, but he caused a bitof a craze around school.  I don’t knowif it was his pre-fashionable Lycra outfit or his very well developed calves,but a few of us started to read up on cycling. He wore Island Triathlon & Bike lycra shorts.  Suddenly, we all had another brand to add to ourHIC and Quicksilver and Jams collections. Those ITB shorts were my first introduction to the world of triathlon…My best friend Peter was also into cycling, so I taggedalong with him to ITB as he purchased new components for his Cannondale.  I learned about Shimano gear sets and pedals,and about cycle cleats.  I thought a lotabout saving my money to get a bike too, but we lived on top of one of theridges on O’ahu and it was just not practical – riding home would have involvedgoing on outrageous hill climbs with angles at parts of about 40 degrees – my poorcar had a hard time handling it and frankly I was not that fit!  But I thought maybe someday I would get abike and cleats.  Someday.Fast forward: about a month ago.  I finally bought my very first pair cyclecleats.  For the last two Londontriathlons I made due with normal pedals / toe clips, but I decided thatthis year I would take the leap and get cleats. Besides outdoor cycling I could also use them at the gym on the spinningbikes and in spin class.  Buying cleatswas a bit traumatic – I have very high arched feet, so instead of the typicalblack Velcro closing mountain cleats, I had to go for cleats with laces (otherwiseknown as spin shoes).  They were the onlyones that fit my arches.  Fashion aside, I walkedout of Cycle Surgery the proud owner of cycle shoes! Fast forward: Saturday. I was worried about trying my cleats out on my bike.  I had single sided pedals put on (so that Icould keep using my bike with normal shoes as well as cleats), but I hadn’ttried them out.  I was worried aboutclipping into my pedals.  I wrecked myelbow in 2007 and had to have surgery to restabilise the joint (similar to ACLsurgery, but for the arm).  At my last post-surgeryappointment my doctor gave me strict orders not to fall on my arm.  I have been scared of trying out my cleats –especially since everyone I know has toppled over.  But I thought if I could learn in a safeplace, and if I could set the release very light, then I could probably figureout how to ride with them without risking my arm.  I threw my cleats and a cycle tool into my bag and we cycled up to Victoria Park.  It was anawesome morning – cool clear blue skies and a light breeze.  We went around the park – one time around (app 5k) ata good pace, and then I stopped to adjust my pedals and change my shoes.  Deep breath. Shoes on.  Pedals loose.  Hop onto bike.  Deep breath.  Heart pounding.  Slowly, gingerly, I pedalled off – and clipped in.The feeling was…  Indescribable…  Truly liberating and free!  Like a kid in the candy shop I pedalled off,pulling and pushing, one continuous fluid motion, gliding gently and lightly around thepark.  The sun was shining, the breezeblowing, and I felt GREAT. At one with my bicycle.  Literally a connection between me, the bikeand my surroundings.Flashback: high school and my first visit to ITB where Ilearned about Shimano pedals and bought my first pre-fashionable lycra.  Flashback: Bianchis and Cannondales and friendswith bikes and cycle shoes.  Flashback:my ancient teenage dream of cycling to school and back in cleats.  Fast forward: a dream come true – and teen spirit in theair.

4 responses to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

  1. Loved this!!!! I could completely relate – having been through the exact same experience exactly one week before. Terrifying – but exciting. And actually, it was a significant turning point for me when I chose to spend NZ$280 on cycle shoes instead of on a nice pair of leather high heeled boots!!!! Looking forward to hearing about your next outing!

  2. Hee hee – gangsta rap!  Love it!  I think someone recently posted that exercise is more effective with a good tune.  If I find that link I will share it. And as for clipped in riding, I have been really hesitant.  But now that I have done it, I’d be hard pressed to ride without cleats again!

  3. My next big challenge is the London triathlon (sprint distance again this year – Olympic next year!) which is on 1 August.  Before then I will be doing the London Bike-a-thon, which is always a fun day out around London in support of Leukaemia Research.  It is also a great chance to spend a lot of time on the bike in London without fear of trucks, taxis, or bad drivers Thanks for sending your blog link, too!

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