in my quest to become better friends with my bike, we've been getting together more often. three times a week to be exact. me and the bike have been going out with my husband on sunday 'skillz & drillz' rides. drills that include: riding freakishly close to each other. freakishly, handlebars within 2 inches of each other close. and ohmygod touching while you ride. next week, we have to lean shoulder to shoulder. while riding. on the street. note to self for next week: put valium in water bottle. i worry a little bit that next week is the week i find out what road rash feels like. we work on managing momentum, and how momentum is your friend. we work on looking where you want to go. if you look at where you are afraid to go - like that big hole - that's where you'll go. and i gotta say, looking where you want to go is amazingly effective. i am loving all this work on the bike with specific things to do. when i'm not riding well, and i'm all tense (the white knuckles and stiff-as-a-board-arms could be a dead give-away, i don't know) my husband asks me what i am thinking about or what i am looking at. my stellar response is usually something along the lines of: "i don't know" or "nothing". we joked later during our post ride chat that its like i just need someone to put a thought in my head. a smart bike thought. tell me what to do. tell me what to think about, what to look at & i'll do it. bend and relax my arms? ok. stop half wheeling? ok. tell me what that means & i'll stop. what gear is best for right now? just tell me & i'll do it and then i'll remember it for the next time. sure, there's a time and place for figuring things out on your own, but personally, i don't think a paceline with a bunch of people is a good time for that. i want to know and be told exactly what to do so i don't wind up with asphalt embedded in my face. nor do i want to be the tool that made someone else wind up with asphalt in their face.
i've also joined a women's riding group to help with the whole need to learn more and feel more comfortable. we ride on monday nights and last nights' ride was a total blast. i came home high as a kite, and this is something i have never felt after a ride. the group was started by a local racer and while they are fun and social and offer a great opportunity to meet and chat with other women (a mix of racers and regular girls) while riding in a 20 mph conversational pace line; the skirt rides, as they are called, are not without their skillz & drillz. in the rotating two-up pace line down to the hilly park, we (the regular girls, not the racers) are reminded to stop half wheeling, to get one someone's wheel, to slow down if we are pulling away, and to pull off if we are pulling to long. its a series of little coachy tidbits. and i love coachy tidbits. love. them. once we got to the park and rode a series of hills to the top, we rode a 1/2 mile loop with some sharp turns. orders are yelled at us all the way around the turn on the best line and how to take it, and when we came through the other side, and were told we all sucked and needed to do it again, because the way we all took the turn was how crashes happen - i was thrilled. this is exactly what i signed up for. someone to tell me what to do, how to do it best and make me do it over again if i sucked the first time.
between the skillz and drillz rides with my husband and the skirt rides, i'm starting to get back a little of the bike mojo that was lost over the past six months. and by bike mojo, i simply mean that i actually like getting on my bike now. i don't resent it for 'keeping me from a run'. its not a neccesary evil to get through an injury. i'm loosening up on that white-knuckle grip - which just makes for a smoother ride all around. i think me and my bike are friends again.