NDSU Magazine logo - Fall 2009

previous story next story

FALL 2009

Vol. 10, No. 1


PDF Version
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Email Us

Past Issues



In the spirit of never being too old to learn something new, I have begun to ride a really fast bicycle. This may not sound like much, but please bear with me, it's a big deal. For starters, this bicycle is a scary-looking contraption. The wheels are very thin and the seat, (correctly called a saddle, for which you have your, ahem, girth, measured) is teeny tiny. Road bikes, as they are known, also require special shoes fitted with clips that snick into the pedals. Or snick in if you are coordinated enough to make them do so. I have gotten better.

My bike is silver, which is pretty much all I know. But the first time I met up with some new cycling friends, they were rather excited about it having a carbon fork. I told you it was a brave new world. The past two years I have fallen off my previous bike early in the spring. My husband and I used to think we were really doing something when we rode our old bikes with fat tires, wide seats and high rise handle bars seven miles for a cup of coffee. When you're such a klutz that you fall over when you come to a red light and end up with scabs on your knees like you haven't had since you were an eight-year-old, you think twice before getting on a much more dangerous road bike. But you have adopted a new spirit of open mindedness, so you try it out.

My first reaction to that first ride is still my position on this: I should not be in possession of anything that allows me to go that fast. My second thought, to which I am ever more committed: I gotta get faster.

The idea of improving took a hit on my first attempt at a big group ride. This was supposed to be the relaxed group, and if so, I would not like to see the aggressive crowd. It was a tough night because of a 20 mph wind we rode against for the first 12 miles or so. I knew the wind would pose a challenge, but I'd heard a lot about the wind-sheltering benefits of riding in a group. There's a fascinating sort of bicycle ballet known as a pace line, involving people who ride at the front for a while to fight the wind, and then break off to the sides and the next in line pull for a while, and so on. Of course, that only works if you can stay with the main pack. My husband and his very nice friends stayed back with me, and I alternated emotions between awe at their kindness and just desperately hoping they would go ahead so I could lie down on the side of the road and weep. The good news is that, eventually, you get to turn and have the wind at your back, so no matter how humbled you may have been on the way out, you feel like a superstar on the way home.

Life has many demands and difficulties, times to be serious. May you have many chances to try new things, meet new people, and grin like a fool.

Thank you for reading.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.