One of the best things about having accidentally moved last year has been living in the “city” again. It’s a rare day that I don’t see at least a dozen dogs being walked by my window, their owners getting as much exercise at the dog. Skateboarders, runners, and lots of bikers. Ann Arbor is known for its bikes, and that spills out into the smaller towns so they can get their 20-100 mile ride in. It’s not unusual to see people in specialized uniforms and bike helmets, even right outside my window as they get to the hilly paved roads we’re known for. Weekends bring so many bikes on the road you’d think it was a road race. Seeing all these slim (or slimming) people out working on their health is a great goad to getting yourself out, working on your cardio or muscle strength.
Pulled into the sport last year, Guy has been biking himself into better shape, me reaping the benefit of those tight biker shorts, but it wasn’t until Thing Two got involved that I became jealous of them having something to do together that was mildly competitive. I miss the time I used to spend with my boys, and I look for ways to keep involved, not just at the side line, but actively involved. (We used to do martial arts together until I damaged my lower back, and then we moved and just didn’t find a school we liked.)
For almost a year now, I’ve been tripping over specialized shoes with toe clips, washing water bottles, and finding wrappers to tiny candy bars and salt blocks. Strange sets of biker clothes, jerseys, special socks, head bands, and gloves keep showing up in the laundry with specialized washing instructions. I can’t do much more than hang them up and hope the right person takes them to their closet because both Guy and Thing Two keep coming home with new clothes and knowing whom gets what is becoming a challenge. (Honestly, it’s like living with two teenage girls.) There is stuff everywhere! In the back room, my kitchen, the mail as they get more stuff . . . But then I see them both whizzing by my window looking good in different ways, and I don’t care. Except that I saw something I wanted and wasn’t sure I could have without sacrificing something equally important.
It takes me a long time to decide if I want to take on a new “hobby” mostly because I know if it doesn’t fit into my demanding work schedule, I won’t do it. I’ve been exercising for almost a year to strengthen my back, fitting my 20 minutes easily into my day and not needing anything but an elastic band and some floor space. (I don’t like needing a lot of stuff to get things done.) It works, and I don’t see myself quitting. Biking, though, is a commitment by the looks of all the stuff that has taken over my mud room, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle not only the time it needed, but the things that go along with it. These boys have a lot of stuff.
So . . . after a lot of soul searching, I gave it a whirl. Got myself a cracker-jack bike with tires that can handle dirt roads as well as paved, a helmet, and one set of riding clothes, and went out for a quick 7 miles. The verdict? Not that bad. Oh, I was bad at it, but I could do it, and I didn’t need a lot of stuff. I’ve been at it for almost a month now, not going at it as hard as Guy, (who gets cranky if he doesn’t get a ride in every day) but enough that progress is being made. I now have a nicer pair of shoes to bike in, though they are not the toe-clip kind and never will be. I also bought a second jersey with long sleeves so I can bike a bit longer into the season. I have a time/speed/average readout on my bike because I’m competitive, and I want to know if I’m getting better right NOW! I have never eaten a salt block, and never will. Guy and Thing Two are in it for a different reason than I am, but it came together for me this weekend when the three of us went for an early morning ride, my skills finally getting to the point where I’m not such a pansy and might be fun to ride with once in a while. We came back tired together, having done something we could all relate to. I might not have a lot of “stuff”, but I’m getting out of it exactly what I wanted, and that works for me.