Confession – I’m still a NEWB!

I was listening to the podcast last week – #12. Al was discussing his “It’s Girl Thing” women’s bike clinic he is giving, focusing on women riders who needed to learn basic bike skills. I listened to the list and thought, “Boy, that would be a great clinic to offer to us girls out here [in Georgia].”

Sure, I’ve learned a great deal since I started riding in ’08. I learned about bike types, parts, basic bike maintenance, and even learned a bunch of “bike lingo”. Furthermore, I’ve learned how keeping my cadence high saves my muscles and keeping my upper body quiet saves energy. Of course, I learned boat loads about my endurance and much more. Mostly, I learned about myself, and that particular learning path still continues. However, I realized as I listened that I’m still a freakin’ newb with regards to some of my skills on the bike.

Here’s what he said the clinic would cover: clipping in and clipping out; gear shifting; riding next to somebody; going uphill out of the saddle; braking; cornering; grabbing the water bottle; descending.

Sure, I’ve “got” clipping in and out, gear shifting [LOL some of my “lessons” are fodder for a post at some later date], descending, etc. Even though I’m not a “pro” at riding next to somebody or braking, I’m “good” for now.

However, I need help with cornering, coming out of my saddle on an uphill, grabbing my water bottle…and heck (even though he didn’t mention this skill), I detest taking my right hand off my handlebars to give hand signals or point to dangers in the road, too. (My left hand, sure…my right hand – uh uh. Nope, not doing it. Not yet.)

WRT to cornering and coming out of the saddle, these two skills kind of freak me out b/c it involves my bike moving underneath me in such a way that’s not in an upright position. Having 4 falls [*achem* see “clipping in/out” lesson] in the past couple of years (complete with bruises bigger than my entire hand) and a nasty crash when I was 17 (from which you can still see some of the scars), I’m freaked out when my bike goes in any direction but straight underneath me.

What’s really weird is that I have actually done this once (coming out of my saddle to climb). It was on a short, steep hill, and it was the first time I rode my current bike. I still remember coming out of the saddle and fluidly pedaling up the hill. I did it without even thinking. My hubby (and riding buddy) was thrilled to see me do it so quickly. I haven’t done it, since.

I tried another time, and my bike wobbled so much, I thought I was going to fall. I quickly sat down and I’ve had super glue on my butt ever since. Okay, okay that’s not entirely true. What I will do, this season, is come up a tad (but imperceptibly to another rider)–maybe a half inch or an inch–and use the torque I get from doing that to transfer more power down to my legs. …But come up all the way? Uhhhhh…no. (Still got my chicken wings on. Prawk, prawk, prawk!!!)

*sigh* So, I guess, here, what I’m really working on is not so much the skill but my fears, instead. Maybe I just need to…Think…LESS, since I did it without thinking the first time. (Gosh, that one would probably solve a lot of my problems, including ones not even on the bike. Too bad, that isn’t as easy to apply as it is to write.)

Frankly, my fears are what play into my difficulty with reaching for my water bottle from the cage below, too.

In my defense on this one though, I was using a camelback from 2008 until this past May when I switched to using my cages. So, I’m a stark newb working on this skill. When I’m on a flat or a slight downhill with a steady rolling pace in a quiet area, I will reach down to grab my bottle. I have, indeed, successfully drank out of it while rolling and gingerly put it back a few times. I just need more practice. Once again though, I’ll only do this with my left hand, not my right.

Sheez if I take my right hand off, it’s as if I suddenly put a 20lb weight on one side of my bike. I start wobbling like a kicked weeble. Remember those toys? Except I DO fall down…and I would like to avoid that, thank you very much! So, it would be nice to have a coach work with me on that.

Hey Al, you ever want to come on out to Atlanta? I know some other women besides myself who could use to brush up on this stuff, too. Maybe you should franchise this out. …or maybe I’ll get going with these skills and franchise this stuff, myself! Who knows!