Cycling “Firsts”: What You Didn’t Expect When You Signed Up For This

Now that I have been riding regularly for a couple a weeks I thought it might be both fun and educational to share some of my top “first experiences” while riding.  These “firsts” would be experiences that I really hadn’t prepared for mentally or physically, didn’t really EVER think about, and once they happened I was like “wow, did that really just happen, deep breath, okay I’m good?!?”

Me with a squirrel... on my shoulder.

Me with a squirrel… on my shoulder.

Animals as obstacles. Yes, that is what I said…It was probably my 4th ride out on my new bike, and I was with a couple friends. We were riding along at a nice pace on a bike path in Madison, WI. The stretch of path was flanked on either side with tall grasses and trees. Out of no-where came a critter. It was actually kind of the like the game Frogger…with it scrambling and dodging in between all three of our tires. I, however, couldn’t do much to avoid dinging it slightly. Thankfully for my piece of mind and its well-being it was able to run off. Fingers crossed no permanent injuries occurred. This my friends was an entirely new experience for me, and one that shook me up a bit for the next several miles. You see I kind of LOVE animals; all animals even squirrels.  I couldn’t image being the cause of pain to one.  Since then I have had a few near misses, but I must say I am more on guard now to the possibility of animals crossing my path.

Mud slides. So I did a ride, again with friends, the morning after a night of non-stop rainfall. Again we were on a paved bike path, but this time it was in the open along a highway. The path was new and a section was covered with mud that had washed from the either side of the path and settled on the pavement. My friend, who was on a mountain bike, hit the mud first. She proceeds to scream out a warning. I was approximately six feet behind her and coming in fast. Too late to really affect the rate at which I hit the mud. Now this was not just a little mud. I am talking an inch and half or so of pudding like mud on a newly paved surface. For those of you haven’t experienced this…as soon as my front tire hit the mud it was like riding on an oil slick. I managed to maintain my balance, coming into the mud about 10 inches from the edge of the path, which had a grassy surface on the side. Call it skill, or luck; I prefer skill, but I was able to guide myself and my bike to the grass after sliding about 3 feet and not taking down my bike. Oh, and did I mention, I had another friend coming in hot right behind me? In the end, we all made it without falling, but man it was close. Just had to do some hosing off of the bikes when we got done with the ride.

Sore bum. After my first two long rides (15+ miles each) wearing only regular athletic shorts, I knew I was in trouble. Yes. My sit bones were screaming at me every time I sat in a chair. As I was sharing the details with a colleague, they asked if I was wearing padded bike shorts. Um no! Padded bike shorts are sheer perfection for the cyclist. Lesson learned big time, and number one priority for me now that I ride!

So those are my top three so far, but I thought it would be fun to also ask some other friends at Schwinn about their first experiences riding too.  Here are a few more firsts:

My first time forgetting to unclip at a stop sign. “I was still new to clipless pedals. But, it wasn’t my first time riding with them. I had been using them for a couple of weeks. Many can relate to this so the story may sound familiar. Luckily I was riding alone saving me from the embarrassment of an audience witnessing what I’m convinced was the slowest fall physically possible. Maybe it was the summer solstice, and gravity just wasn’t as strong as usual. I can’t say for sure. But, I slowly came to a stop at a stop sign forgetting that I was clipped in only realizing it when I casually tried to lift my foot straight up off the pedal as I was already starting to lean. Panic set in so instead of calmly twisting my foot to pop free from the pedal I spent the next couple of seconds (which felt like minutes) flinching and flopping around trying to free myself as the bike and I slowly tipped closer and closer to the pavement until `thud’ like a tree falling in the woods. But, when a Steve falls on his road bike and no one is around to hear him, he still makes noise. Son of a B@$#! D*&% It!  It happens to everyone, and it’s nothing to be afraid of. In the end, the only thing that hurt was my pride a little bit.” (Steve)

Don't even ask how...

Don’t even ask how…

Temporary tattoos. Starting out biking, and ok, even now, I have had issues with getting chain grease marks all over my self. The secret to removal… a little Dawn dish soap! (Sam)

King of the Hill. “I remember my first invitation to ride some singletrack. I had no idea what that was and needless to say with my one bike, a mountain bike that wasn’t what you would call `trail worthy’ I was quite out of my league! To read the full story about Mikes Rite of Passage into Mountain Biking, check back this Thursday!” (Mike)

Conquering the mountain!

Conquering the mountain!

I love that part of riding is the adventure.  Each ride is truly memorable in it’s own right. Please go ahead and share your first experiences cycling with our community.  We want to hear from you.  And check back because I and my friends will have plenty more firsts to share this Summer!

Get out and ride!