Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pain in the Peloton

I've taking up cycling. Turns out, it matters not a bag of spanners if you've bought the fanciest bike and the most padded-ed shorts. It's always going to feel like you are riding naked like the cyclists below. A pain in the royal Peloton...

Bodypainted cyclists. Source

We've signed up for a rigorous bike ride in the summer - 60 miles a day - through the South of France. One of my 50th birthday (yes, it's whole year of celebrating) things.  It's in 10 weeks. Just one problem. I didn't actually own a bike. And another problem. I haven't really ridden a bike since I was 12.

So first step: I bought all the guff. Oh the bicycle shorts! They bring out the babe in you. As in baby - it's like wearing superpooper diapers. They bring out the animal in you. Elephant knees anyone? "I'm so depressed about my bloopy legs now!" I wailed to my friend Lisa, who replied: "The clothes for cycling are not cute. If you want cute - take up golf."

Armed with bike, helmet, glasses, arm warmers, I drove out to Lafayette, a green and lush land just ten mins through the tunnel from where we live in Oakland. I parked in a lonely street and whoomped onto my bike. Crash! Whoomp back on again. Eventually I had my two feet in the toe-clips. Then smash, crash, splat, me and the bike were eating the road. It turns out when you stop, you need to know how to unclip your feet.

Up again and giving a cheery wave to the two lots of contractors working opposite: "First time! I'm okay! Don't worry!" Thumbs up from the workmen.

An hour and two huge crashes later I was still riding up and down the same street and the workmen were tired of giving the encouraging thumbs up.

I managed to head out to the real roads and cycled for another hour. One more tremendous crash which forced the bike seat sideways. If you think cycling is uncomfortable, try riding with the seat turned sideways.

I took the bike back to the store to get fixed.  "I crashed a lot!" I wailed to the girl at the bike store. "Oh, it's not bad - you're not bloody" she said. Then the staff gathered around -  I needed to practise, practise, practise my toe clipping for hours in front of the TV. So that's what I'm doing. Good news is I'm all caught up with SpongeBob and the new season of Mad Men.

Me doing heel clips training with SpongeBob

I headed to Walnut Creek (not without driving home and taking a shower - you see I have made cycling into the biggest carbon footprint sport in the land.)  Greeted my friend Lisa in front of the new Neiman Marcus. Lisa had seen these gold wing-tipped shoes (see - essentially golf-inspired shoes) on a blog but couldn't track who makes them...this was our challenge.

Via: ReasonsToBreathe Has anyone seen these shoes?

We formed a small but experienced Pelaton of two and entered the store. There was swerving, there was scooping, there was checking back and surging ahead but ultimately each corner was covered. I've finally hit my stride. There's stores in France right?

Lisa and I finding recruits for the peloton

Lisa fearlessly leading our peloton of two 



28 comments:

  1. You crack me up..... AGAIN and AGAIN! Frankly, I would be better on the shoe hunt than on the bike as well!

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  2. I flipped over the bicycle handles once when "mountain biking". Never again. I now own a pink beach cruiser and never switch gears. Tennis -- the clothes are adorable!

    The trip to France sounds amazing - beside the bike riding part that is. ; )

    xoxo

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  3. Jody, a bike ride in the summer through the South of France? Oh, that sounds fabulous! xo
    Ada

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  4. Ok so thank you for teaching me a new word (Pelaton?) Jody, and I'm so looking forward to tales of France. What else is planned?

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  5. Wow, that is quite an undertaking...60 miles a day. I admire your stamina and ambition. Happy Birthday year, by the way. It will be a wonderful trip I'm sure.

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  6. Oh my, I admire your determination! Sounds equally dreamy & horrific! South of France...YES, biking 60 miles a day...kill me now! :) xoxo

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  7. Jody! What an amazing experience you will have! Glad you are starting to "train" :) and I know what you are saying about the clips. I bought some for the Spin classes at the gym.. Not as easy as people think when done correctly! I need to get a pair of those sexy bike shorts with the kotex pad.. My SIT bones kill me after those classes!

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  8. I watched my brother wipe out on his bike a few years back because he couldn't get his feet unclipped in time. I crashed into husband's bike almost 2 years ago as he decided to swing a sharp left to "hear what I was shouting to him" as I came speeding up from behind. I flew over my handlebars, got a bit banged up and totaled HIS bike. He did deserve it though for causing the crash in the first place. ;)

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  9. This reminds me of when I 'trained' for a cycling trip to the US for the Daily Telegraph. I spent half an hour each morning on an exercise bike in a friend's bathroom at her West Hampstead home. The cycling company is based in Berkeley, but I picked a trip to Florida (nice and flat). Needless to say, I was the only Brit on the trip, in borrowed cycle gear and the wrong footwear. Everyone else had great kit. Most were New Yorkers escaping the winter freeze, but it was a sexagenarian retired cop from Chicago who racked up the most miles each day - I think he hit 70 or more. We began in a pretty place called Mount Dora and (this being 20 years ago) I soon managed 40 miles comfortably. I'll leave you to decide whether this had something to do with the route on our fourth day which took us past lakes punctuated by cafes advertising 'gator steaks.

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    1. Wonder what the French word for 'gator is?

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  10. 60 miles a day? Wow, I hope it won't be too hot this year...

    You look good on the bike though watching Sponge Bob. :)

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  11. Hi It'll be wonderful touring the South of France in the summer, maybe even better if you did it by taxi....just an idea!

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  12. I hate toe-clips. I can't seem to figure them out, and I don't want to practice!

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  13. i am most impressed with you! what a way to spend your 50th birthday! keep practicing and maybe your butt will get used to it???

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  14. I hate toe clips. I got my first concussion courtesy of toe clips. This was back in the days before helmets, of course.

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  15. you are cracking me up! i love this post as bikes and i have a terrible history that began with my ten speed back when i was, well, ten. the hate hate relationship has continued all my life - i don't even like spin classes. SO, good for you for taking the plunge and trying something new! xo

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  16. What an amazing challenge! Good luck! xo style, she wrote

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  17. sorry....did you say 60 miles a day??? that'll be some sadle sore....!!

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  18. Wow thats awesome, So happy to be here visiting you again, I have enjoyed catching up on all your wonderful posts, Hope you have a great day my friend.

    Always Wendy

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    1. I'm laughing so much I opt for the safer option and do spinning twice a week.

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  19. I am so incredibly proud of you for doing what I chickened out to do--biking in the himalayas--although the south of france sounds way more cushy. And now that I know about the toe clip thing I am even more nervous about the whole thing, but maybe you'll inspire me! Hoping you two found the gold toed shoes!

    xo Mary Jo

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  20. I can't wait for your travel posts of this cycling holiday. It has blog fodder written all over it!!

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  21. I have a feeling a friend of mine did this a few year's back (she was also the fastest over 50 female in one of the stages of the Tour de France)and she said it was hardcore so good luck! Are you going anywhere near Mont Ventoux?

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    1. Alexandra, thanks for stopping by! Welcome to the blog. Am ashamed to say don't know if we are going near Mont Ventoux, I was thinking this was a group of shops, but Googling it shows its a bald mountain! Help me!

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  22. Im still laughing at how you described the bike shorts! I am sure they look fab on you.. I love lafayette...I called it home for 4 years during college. Such a beautiful community.

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  23. I love cycling! Mr. A is getting into it now, too, and I love it.

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  24. First off...Did you find the shoes? I have fallen in love with them. Second, I hope you have a fantastic time in France and good luck with the cycling, you crack me up. I've got a new bike, got to click in and am now wondering how many crashes I will have. Good luck to both of us.

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    Replies
    1. Yes finally Lisa's mother tracked them down - she's a golfer - the shoes are Walter Genuin, a Dutch company. http://www.waltergenuin.com/index_2.php?lang=eng

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