dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamlapais, November 4, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the Corte Madera Creek bike path (with bike on path)

With another gloriously bright, sunny, and warm day bursting upon us as if summer were that relative who had long overstayed even a most welcome visit, I could hardly wait to go ride my bike some more. My bright (and fancy) new bike, the Bianchi Zurigo 2012. My first “grown-up” bike with the (to me) serious shifting for smooth speed uphill, downhill, and in between. A bike with a shifter that ought to be pedaled with feet shod in “grown-up” biking shoes … but more about that later.

So, shortly after noon, out I went, down the hill and pedaling across a busy intersection, heading toward the quieter bike path for some laps and an eventual meander toward a coffee shop for refueling. I did not plan on a big ride or any climbs; just wanted to spin around and skirt the waterways in the sun. No sooner did I round the corner behind the Bon Air Shopping Center that I felt the road awfully bumpy suddenly. Ah, I thought, this is what a flat tire feels like in the middle of a ride. And sure enough, my rear tire was as flat as a pancake, or, to be more exact, as flat as a French crêpe.

I don’t have a repair kit yet for this bike, nor have I ever changed a tube on a rear tire before, so I called the spouse. He who drove me to 3 Ring Cycles in San Anselmo, where Brad McKenzie swapped out the punctured tube for a new one in the space of a brief conversation we had, and within minutes I was ready to ride again.

The spouse drove home, and I set out on the bike through San Anselmo, Ross, and Larkspur, lapping up the sunshine and the feel of the road as I rolled on under the canopy of trees still only laced at the edges with fall foliage. Emboldened by the apparent ease of the ride, once I arrived on the bike path, I decided to get adventurous and start clipping at least one “grown-up bike shoe. Back and forth I went on the flat part, with one foot firmly clipped in, savoring the difference in what it takes to pedal between the two sides. For now, my bike has reversible pedals, so I can use them with biking shoes and regular shoes.

Then, on a whim that might have had a touch too much testosterone in it, I decided to climb the short, but steep, hill at the end of the path at S. Eliseo Road, with one foot still snugly clipped in. Half way up I seem to have run out of that testosterone and felt I should turn around and go down, just to be safe. As I started to turn, I saw a car coming down the hill with the intent to turn left into my path, and, behind me, there was another cyclist climbing, so I corrected my course back to straight up and also gripped the brakes a little too strong, planning to stop. And stop I did. My left leg reached the ground way too close to the bike, but my right one wouldn’t unclip fast enough, and there I was, suddenly, fallen over on my right side, draped over the curb, with the bike over me. Even as I was falling, though, a part of me was relaxing as with a sigh of relief over that first dreaded fall with the cleats.

I skinned my knee, but not too badly. The seat of my bike also got “skinned.” It now sports a white spot where the black leather got scrapped off by the road. The shiny little “hubcap” at the end of the handlebar also got scratched up and blackened. As for my ego, that was spared the proverbial bruising, as no one seemed to have witnessed the fall, or if they did, they felt no need to come over and talk to me.

I got back on the bike immediately and continued riding; back down this time. Back on the flats, I went to work with clipping in and out of the pedal with one foot along the way for the next half hour.  Now that the dreaded first marks on the bike (like those first scratches on a new car) are out of the way and now that I have the scrapes on my knee from that first fall in cleats at stops, riding my new bike, even with that new way with cleats, should come as easily as (well) riding a bike….



  1. November 5, 2012

    Oh dear. The dread of a fall with cleats has kept me from ever getting clip-in pedals! Though on my hybrid bike they’d be a bit silly, maybe. And my biking days are numbered for this season – when it gets below 40 degrees and snow flurries appear, I start to chicken out.

    • November 5, 2012

      I felt a bit of a pressure to move on to cleats, since my clunky shoes seemed out of place on this fancy bike. I have to admit that once you clip in, there is a sense of ease in moving the pedals. You no longer feel like you are always pushing down. Instead, your entire leg is in motion, almost like in walking, except that you are moving with ease and so much faster than you could on your feet proper. A bit like flying, or about to take off on a long runway, the way a loon needs to 🙂

      Besides, we’ve had such incredibly beautiful weather, I didn’t want to miss being out on the bike, so I have been overdoing it.

  2. November 5, 2012

    I’m glad you (and the spiffy new bike) didn’t get badly hurt! Worrying about spills has been worse than the actual thing, in my experience so far…knock on wood!

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