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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamalpais, November 18, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed as a blue speck in the distance and through the bike

Yes, that is my bike on a bench, with a shoe seemingly at rest on the back of it. It’s not at rest. It’s still in the pedal, clipped in.

Mt. Tam didn’t loom large in my landscape today, even as I rode around in plain sight of it. In the morning, I took off for a ride with a friend, and easy cruise around, only to have that cut short by a flat tire. I still haven’t gathered a repair kit for this new bike, so I did the next best thing: called the spouse for a ride to the bike shop.

At the bike shop it was obvious what caused my flat. A staple, like a tiny sword, impaled itself in a space between the knobs of the tire, puncturing the tube. The guys at the shop changed the flat in less time that it would have taken me to release the brake, let alone deal with the derailleur.

And so I was on the road again, lapping up the miles, taking in the wind, like a dog with its head out the car window, not a care in the world. The sun that graced us this morning with light and a little heat decided to retreat slowly behind gathering clouds, some even ominous looking, but I wasn’t about to stop riding. Not just yet. Taking to bike paths around the neighborhood, I thought I would practice my riding skills with the cleats.

I was especially proud of having adjusted one of my cleats last night, getting the angle just right, or so I thought. On previous rides, my efforts with that cleat were mixed, sometimes the shoe sticking nicely, sometimes too much, but always seemingly at an angle. So there I was, both feet clipped in, cruising along, back and forth. At times, I would practice getting one foot or another free as I went along. It felt like I was making progress.

Until there was that moment, somewhere near San Quentin under increasingly cloudy skies and through colder winds, when my left shoe wouldn’t budge. The harder I tried to unclip, the more it set itself in. That is, I could see, once I got off the bike and took my foot out of the shoe and stood awkwardly trying to peer at the pedal with the shoe on it, all the while leaning over the bike with one foot in socks, that the screws were loose, but the cleat was snugly in the pedal grips.

And so  gingerly I got my left foot back into the stuck shoe, got myself on the bike, and then pedaled some 2 miles carefully over to Niven Park in Greenbrae, from where I called the spouse to come and rescue me and bring me some shoes.

It may look like the biking gods were not smiling on me today, but I feel the opposite is the case. Seems to me they were generous with trouble in safe places, so that I could learn. They were especially generous with the stuck pedal, because that has been a huge nightmare for me, a big stumbling block to moving on to the road properly shod for speed and safety. So I am here to say that I am truly grateful for all these mishaps that couldn’t happen in better circumstances.