For my birthday this year my husband gave me a bike, and bought one for himself as well. I had made an offhanded remark about how nice it would be to go for bike rides together. He picked up on that and brought home two beautiful, old-fashioned bikes with one speed and pedal brakes, just the way we had when we were kids. I was enthralled.
Well it took us awhile to find the time to actually take a ride on our new bikes, but we finally took them out of the shed, determined to make it a weekly ritual. I was in for a shock.
First of all, I couldn't lift my leg high enough to get it over to the other side. The I had trouble lifting my foot high enough to get it on the upper pedal. What happened to me? More to the point, what happened to my body? Then it took me about 10 minutes to get myself into position and actually push off, scared to death that something would happen to cause me to stop quickly, knowing I could not easily jump to standing position.
Once we got going I was OK, except for my thigh muscles, which began to complain almost immediately - especially when we climbed the small hill around the corner from our house. We only did about a quarter of a mile and decided we'd had enough for the day - both of us feeling the use of difference muscles. We thought we were in pretty good shape for our ages because we both walk miles every week, but obviously our bodies didn't think so. Or at least, they were more aware of our age-related limitations.
I was humiliated and annoyed. "How come ________ rides all over town on his bike and he's about 20 years older than we are?" I lamented to my husband. Well, I know part of the answer lies in the fact that we need to gently acclimate our older muscles and in time we should be riding all over town in our colorful new bikes. But its a real wake-up call to realize how things have changed. It's probably been thirty years or more since I tried to ride a bike. And thirty years since my body has had the freedom to push itself to limits I never reached. Why did I wait so long to try?
Hopefully I'll be blogging soon about our long bike rides. And how much easier it is now to conquer that hill....